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Jan 8, 201912:32 PMInside Wisconsin

with Tom Still

Some economic trends to follow in the new year

(page 2 of 2)

Manufacturing productivity shifting to higher gear: Whether the measure is goods produced, percentage of the overall workforce, or number of firms, Wisconsin is one of the nation’s top manufacturing states. Individual companies are improving productivity through accelerated use of technology, efficient supply chains, sustainable practices, sales growth and exporting, and continuous process improvement. Groups such as the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing Productivity, the related Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce are among those trying to help, even as worries of an expanded “trade war” cloud the future. Which brings us to …

Wisconsin is an inseparable part of the global economy: With roughly $23 billion in exports per year, and foreign direct investments in virtually every Wisconsin business sector, the state is not a provincial Midwest island. Issues as seemingly distant as President Trump’s border wall to the Brexit debate matter.

At times, instability abroad can work to Wisconsin’s advantage. Among the reasons Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group chose the state for its major North American presence was the prospect of a trade war — it’s better to be on the inside looking out — and the looming threat of mainland China, as reinforced this month when President Xi Jinping warned Taiwan it “must and will be” reunited with that communist nation.

In a world that seems increasingly divided and even violent, where will the smart money flow? To stable democracies such as the United States and its allies.

So far, the 2019 economy is a colicky baby with wet diapers. With 51 weeks to go, let’s hope it grows out of both.

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About This Blog

Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.

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