January 27, 2011 2:22 PM
We just got the most recent unemployment figures for Madison and the news is good. The unemployment rate (which you can see on DWD's website: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/newsreleases/2011/unemployment/110126_december_local.pdf) in the city is down to 4.4% from 5.3% a year ago. This is the best rate in the state and among the best in the nation. And, significantly, the city scores even better than the metro area, which came in at 4.9%.
It was appropriate that right after getting this news yesterday evening I had a chance to attend the OPEN dinner. OPEN stands for Out Professional Executive Network. It's a networking group of business executives in the LGBT community. About 250 people attended their second annual dinner. My point is that Madison is recovering faster from the deep recession than most other places not despite our progressive policies but because of them. In the modern economy openness, in all of its meanings, is what works. A place that has earned a reputation for encouraging entrepreneurs and creative individuals is just naturally going to attract those who create jobs and make investments. Places with closed reputations are going to be, literally, also closed to business.
So, as good as the numbers are, they're still not good enough. When Madison's economy is fully recovered we should expect the unemployment numbers to be below 4%. But the trend is very good, and strong and growing networks like OPEN bode well for the future.