Thursday, December 15, 2011

November job numbers out -- and a note on revisions

Revised numbers raise questions, but still paint gloomy picture of Wisconsin job outlook

The Department of Workforce Development released its preliminary numbers on jobs for the month of November, as well as a revision of October's numbers.

In November, it was initially reported that Wisconsin had lost 9,700 jobs based on preliminary numbers. Those numbers proved to be too preliminary -- the revised numbers show Wisconsin *only* lost 2,400 improvement from the original tally, but a loss in jobs nonetheless.

DWD Secretary Reggie Newson wasn't thrilled with this and other revisions that have occurred this year.
"The most troubling thing to me is the effects these initial estimates have on the perception of Wisconsin’s workforce," Newson said. "The monthly revisions show a much steadier trajectory with gains being higher and losses being much lower than the BLS' initial reports.
Newson is partially right about his criticism -- it's troubling that the estimates are off, sometimes by large margins. Estimates aren't meant to be exact, and most expect changes to occur, revisions to be made. But a revision of that size is something to look out for, cause for those who make the preliminary counts to assess their methods a little better.

Yet Newson is wrong on a different front:
"While there certainly is more progress to be made, we are moving Wisconsin in the right direction and laying the groundwork for the private sector to create jobs."
Um, not so much. Negative numbers are still negative -- a move in the "right direction" would include positive job numbers, making up for the losses we've thus far incurred since Walker's budget passed in June. (It's interesting to note that all of the positive job numbers in 2011 came about during the tail end of the budget passed by Walker's predecessor, former Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat.)

Newson acts as though those preliminary numbers are purposely put out to make Wisconsin look bad. There's no proof of this, however, other than his own assumptions. Preliminary numbers should be treated as such -- preliminary, and thus possibly mistaken. Yet, even though October's job losses were diminished, they still went in the same direction (negative) as was initially projected.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the November job numbers (PDF). Again, these are preliminary -- take that caveat for what it is.

This graph shows quite a dramatic loss from October to November. Preliminary numbers project a loss of more than 14,000 jobs in the state. If you're quick to dismiss those projections, keep in mind that the change from October's preliminaries and its revised numbers was a drop of 75 percent -- but still a loss. If you apply that same rate change to November's numbers, it's still a loss of more than 3,650 jobs. There's nothing to suggest a revision is imminent at this time, however.

So let's assess that graph a little more. All signs point to another month of job losses -- the fifth in a row, in fact, and the fifth one since Walker signed his budget into law. This probably isn't coincidental -- tax breaks without proper incentives won't create jobs, but this is still Walker's main method for "job creation."

Wisconsin's total jobs aren't the only indication of things souring on the Walker administration. Looking at manufacturing jobs across the state, it's clear that things within that sector are also doing poorly.

Though there were some gains in August, since that time manufacturing has dropped at a steady rate with no indication of improvement on its way.

What can we assess from these numbers? Secretary Newson's rant on the DWD release of November's job numbers undercuts the problem at hand: jobs are still leaving the state, despite the revisions that are being made. And while a lower unemployment rate looks good on paper, it hardly portrays what's going on in the state -- with less jobs and a lower rate, it merely implies that less people are looking for work.

The bottom line is this: nothing has changed (as far as general statements go) except the numbers. While the job numbers from October weren't as severe as initially anticipated, they were still negative. Walker's reforms continue to fail our state, and jobs in Wisconsin aren't growing.

No comments:

Post a Comment