In the March/April issue of Capitol Ideas, I wrote about how the state of Utah has used transportation investment to drive the state’s economic growth. Among those I talked with were two legislators—one a civil engineer, the other an economist—as well as a planning official for the Utah Department of Transportation. But there is plenty more to the story of Utah’s success as I learned in this February interview with Abby Albrecht of the Utah Transportation Coalition, which arrived too late to be included in the published article. The coalition is an organization formed by the Utah League of Cities and Towns, the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and the Utah Association of Counties.

Econ Piggy

In 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress officially designated the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” In honor of this month, here are a few stats about women in the United States.

By Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene, CSG Senior Fellows

At least a dozen states—including Arizona, Florida, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin—have plans to cut taxes in the coming year. But statistics suggest that lowering the tax burden doesn’t always translate into economic activity.

CSG Midwest
Illinois lawmakers are hailing a new set of safeguards that they say will improve how the state oversees grants and will protect against fraud and abuse. The Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (HB 2747) was signed into law last year. The plan for implementing this act was announced in March. 
 
 
CSG Midwest
The third Great Lakes state in four years has passed so-called “right to work” legislation, a trend that has captured national headlines because of the region’s tradition as a union stronghold. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed SB 44 into law in March.
 
CSG Midwest
In the not-so-distant past, “non-existent” would have been an apt term to describe the Midwest’s farm winery and craft beer industries. As recently as the year 2000, only 300 acres were in grape production.

But today, ethanol isn’t the only alcohol being produced in this region. There has been big growth in the beer and wine industry, a trend that is allowing for more diversity in farm production and helping expand local and statewide agri-tourism.

The winery and craft beer industries are moving out of the hobby stage and making an estimated $10 billion contribution to the economies of Midwestern states. More than 12,000 acres of grapes and 600 craft brewers now call the Midwest home. This growth has been fueled not only by the development of winter-hardy varieties of grapes, but also by more-supportive government policies.

According CSG's analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at its peak in August 2008 state government employment stood at 5.21 million, or around 3.8 percent of total nonfarm employment. Over the next five years, state governments shed 187,000 jobs, landing at 5.03 million in July 2013. As of December 2014, state governments had regained 53,000 positions after hitting a low in July 2013, but have only recovered a little over one-quarter of the positions lost since the August 2008 peak.  In December 2014, state government employment made up 3.6 percent of total nonfarm employment.

During and after the Great Recession, job losses in the private sector were more pronounced than losses to state government employment. For example, from Dec. 2007 – Dec. 2008, private sector employment contracted by 3.2 percent and from Dec. 2008 – Dec. 2009, it fell by 4.5 percent. For state government employment, losses did not begin until 2009, when employment fell by 0.8 percent (Dec. 2009-Dec. 2010), 0.3 percent (Dec. 2009 – Dec. 2010) and 1.8 percent (Dec. 2010 – Dec. 2011).

According CSG's analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, throughout 2014, state government employment grew by 0.5 percent overall compared to 2.6 percent growth in the private sector. State government employment grew in 32 states, remained the same in four states and shrunk in 14 states.

According CSG's analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 21.9 million government workers in December 2014, or 15.6 of total nonfarm employment. Nearly two-thirds of government employment is at the local level and 55 percent of local government jobs are in education. About one-quarter of government employment is at the state level and 12 percent is at the federal level.

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