Study says tax credit has spurred manufacturing job growth

MADISON — A study by a University of Wisconsin-Madison economics professor finds that a tax credit critics argue is too expensive has helped grow manufacturing jobs in the state.

The study by professor Noah Williams released Wednesday comes amid increasing debate about the cost benefit of the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit. The credit was passed in 2011 and became fully implemented this year. It is projected to cost more than $1.4 billion by mid-2019, far higher than originally expected.

Democrats in the Legislature and other critics have said the tax credit puts unneeded pressure on other cash-strapped parts of the budget, including education, health care and roads.

Williams' study concludes that since 2013 manufacturing employment has grown nearly 2 percentage points faster in Wisconsin compared with counties just across the state border.