Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A visual look at the jobs situation in Wisconsin (it's not working, Gov. Walker)

Net jobs rate of change was better a year ago under Doyle

Late last week I examined the employment numbers that had just been released for the month of October. As I wrote, the numbers weren't too promising:
The Wisconsin jobs report for October has been released, and unfortunately the news is not so good. 9,700 jobs were lost last month, most of them within the private sector.


To reach Gov. Scott Walker's goal of 250,000 jobs created in his first term, it would take more than 71 years at the current rate we're going at, or 17 more terms than the one he promised it would require.
I also took a look at what was the driving force behind the jobs numbers -- or rather, what WASN'T driving a growth in jobs across the state:
Companies need capital to hire people, it's true, but they also need a reason to hire them in the first place. Demand is what supplies that need -- if a corporation has a higher demand for their good/service, they will hire a worker, if the capital to do so is available as well. But without demand, there's no NEED to hire anyone.


So as we go forth in trying to think of ways to help stimulate the economy, we should focus on what works best. Will a tax break for corporations, without proper demand for their goods or services being created, encourage businesses to hire more individuals? Or will putting money in the hands of workers, through freeing up their basic needs that they'd ordinarily need to concentrate their expenses on (such as health care, as one example), work?
I want to provide a little visual evidence behind what's already been said.

From January to June of this year, Wisconsin added roughly 31,000 jobs -- admittedly a good gain for the first six months. Yet in the four months following Gov. Scott Walker's budget bill passing, nearly all of those job gains were lost. What we ended up with was a mere 3,500 net jobs from the beginning of 2011 to October -- or just under 400 jobs created per month. Put another way, nearly 9 in 10 jobs that were created during the first half of this year were lost in the four months that followed.

As pointed out at Jake's Economic TA Funhouse, the true magnitude of last month's job losses can't only be described in numbers, but also in how horribly we did when compared to the rest of the country (not only this month but since June). Wisconsin lost the highest amount of jobs across the nation for the month of October (in both raw numbers and percentage lost). For an administration that once erroneously claimed to have created half the jobs in the nation in one month, it's going to be difficult to explain why things have soured so fast.

But this can't be blamed on the national picture overall, as the Walker administration has tried to do in the past -- most of the country saw gains in private sector employment. In fact, Wisconsin was just one of eleven states to see private sector job losses overall last month (PDF). Wisconsin has also lost more jobs than any other state since June of this year:
Most Job losses June-October 2011
Wisconsin -27,600
Georgia -19,100
Rhode Island -6,200
Missouri -3,800
Arkansas -3,700
Consider the net rate of change as well. Earlier this month I calculated the rate of change for Wisconsin between the months of January and September. Wisconsin's growth rate was .43 percent, comparable to former Gov. Jim Doyle's rate of change during that same period last year (.40 percent). But as of this month, a new calculation needs to be put in place.

The new job rate of change, from January to October of this year, is approximately .128 percent. Compare that to Doyle's rate of change (from January to October of 2010), which was .657 percent. In other words, the rate of change we had a year ago is over five times greater than the rate of change we're experiencing today -- meaning net job growth has slowed significantly over the past 10 months while under Walker.

A lot of ideas can be drawn from these visual representations of what's happening to jobs in our state. One thing that can't be drawn from it is a line we often hear touted by the Walker administration, over and over again. So the next time you hear someone tell you that "it's working," let that person know that, no, it's not.

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