The Impact of the Manufacturing and

Agriculture Credit in Wisconsin



Noah Williams

Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy

Department of Economics

University of Wisconsin Madison 



In 2011 Wisconsin adopted the Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit (MAC), which provides credits which largely offset the taxes faced by businesses in those sectors in the state.   While manufacturing employment has grown since the MAC took effect in 2013, how much of these gains were due to the credit is under debate. To isolate the policy effect, I focus on counties on either side of the Wisconsin border. After accounting for time and group effects, I find that since 2013 manufacturing employment has grown on average 1.9 percentage points (at an annual rate) faster in Wisconsin relative to counties just across the border.  Quantitatively, I find that every 1 percentage point cut in the effective manufacturing tax rate was associated with a nearly 0.9 percentage point increase in the manufacturing employment growth rate.  I also find significant spill-overs to the broader economy. Non-manufacturing employment has grown on average 0.7 percentage points per year faster on the Wisconsin side of the border since 2013, with each percentage point cut in the manufacturing tax rate associated with a 0.4 percentage point increase in non-manufacturing employment growth with a one year lag.  I estimate that the cumulative impact of the MAC was that by September 2016 manufacturing employment in Wisconsin border counties was 6.6% higher and total employment 2.5% higher than they would have been in the absence of the tax credit. Applying these border-county estimates to the whole state suggests that since its introduction the MAC accounted for a total gain of over 20,000 manufacturing jobs (a 4.6% increase) and over 42,000 total jobs (a 1.8% increase) in Wisconsin.


Full Report

Media Coverage: Associated Press (national)   Milwaukee Business News

Overview Op-Eds:

  What Tax Credits Did to Manufacturing Jobs in Wisconsin,

  "Manufacturing Tax Break Has Been Good for Jobs, Wisconsin State Journal, April 28, 2017.

Related Interview:   "Wisconsin's Manufacturing Job Market: Healthy or Not?, Wisconsin Public Radio, June 20, 2017.

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