Wisconsin's unemployment rate for African-Americans was the highest in the nation last year, a new report shows.
The Center on Wisconsin Strategy released its State of Working Wisconsin 2015 report on Friday, which found that the state has seen slow job growth, wage stagnation and disparities tied to race and gender.
Unemployment among African-Americans in Wisconsin was 19.9 percent in 2014. That's the highest rate in the nation, and 4.6 times higher than the state's white unemployment rate. Nationally, African-Americans are 2.3 times more likely to be unemployed than white workers.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin's overall unemployment has returned to pre-recession levels.
The report also found that the ratio of women's to men's median wages was 81 cents for every dollar. Accounting for inflation, median worker wages are 71 cents higher today than they were in 1979.
But the gender gap is shrinking. In 1979, the median woman earned 59 cents for every dollar earned by the median man.
The progressive think-tank has looked at the state's working climate every year since 1996.
According to the report, Wisconsin gained 140,700 jobs from January 2011 to June 2014 at a growth rate of 5.1 percent. Over the same period, national job growth was 8.4 percent. Had Wisconsin kept pace with national growth, it would have added 90,127 more jobs.
However, the report also noted that Wisconsin's manufacturing job growth outpaces the national market. The sectors that substantially lag the national rate are trade, transportation and utilities, professional and business services and leisure and hospitality.
"We’ve all been hoping for an economic recovery strong enough to lift wages and income,” said COWS associate director Laura Dresser in a statement. "Unfortunately, we’re just not seeing it in 2015, and this Labor Day, we’re still waiting for good news. But the national momentum toward a minimum wage increase is very good news. And as attention grows around the need to invest in our educational systems, this also holds promise for Wisconsin’s workers and future."
Gov. Scott Walker's spokeswoman responded to the report with a statement Friday.
"Governor Walker has also focused on implementing policies to help spur economic growth in Wisconsin, and it’s working. Our economy is growing and we are creating jobs — 2014 was Wisconsin’s best year for private sector job creation in a decade. Not only that, but our disposable income growth adjusted for inflation was 3rd best in the Midwest and better than the nation," said Laurel Patrick in an email. "More people are working. While the national unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in July, the unemployment rate in Wisconsin is down to 4.6 percent."