Three years after the Great Recession officially ended, Wisconsin faces Labor Day on Monday with nearly a quarter-million fewer jobs than it needs, according to a new report by the UW-Madison Center on Wisconsin Strategy.

The “State of Working Wisconsin 2012” said Wisconsin employers provided 2.72 million jobs in July 2012, down from 2.88 million jobs in December 2007, when the recession began.

But the state’s job deficit is really more than 245,900 when population growth is included.

“There’s a serious lack of demand for workers. There are a lot of people who wish they were working, who wish they had more hours of work and a lot of people who have given up looking for jobs,” said Laura Dresser, COWS associate director. “That’s a lot of capacity in this nation and in this state that is not getting used by this labor market.”

Wages also are a serious problem, the report said.

• More than one in five Wisconsin workers employed in 2011 was paid less than $10.97 an hour, considered poverty wages.

• The state’s median wage in 2011 was $16.84, only $1 higher than it was in 1979 if inflation is factored in.

• The inflation-adjusted median income for a family of four fell from $84,500 in 2000 to $76,000 in 2010.

• Unemployment in Wisconsin doubled from 2000 to 2011, and the number of people out of work for more than six months tripled.

In 2011, African Americans in Wisconsin had a 25 percent unemployment rate, the highest in the nation, the report said, and one in four black workers who did have jobs received poverty-level wages.

The figures are based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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