Friday, March 9, 2012

Good news and bad news in January jobs report

State gained in January, but revisions show 2011 was much worse than we thought

There's good news and bad news regarding the latest job numbers for Wisconsin.

The good news is that the state gained 12,500 jobs in the first month of the year. Pushing politics aside, we should be happy that more jobs have come to the state during that time, regardless of whether it helps one party over another.

Yet there is bad news as well: revisions from last year show that Wisconsin did a lot worse on the jobs front than was previously thought -- so much worse that our total numbers from January, despite the spike that we saw overall, are lower than what we previously perceived we were at in December.

In fact, since Walker took office our economy has only grown 6,000 net jobs in the private sector. Overall, total non-farm employment is actually lower now than it was under the previous administration, meaning that we have less jobs now than when Walker took office. In short, we're going backwards.

As I've pointed out before, most of those losses came about at a time when Walker's budget and other reforms were being implemented. Though the six-month streak of continuous job losses is broken by these revisions, it's still valid to assess that Walker's policies didn't do squat to create jobs, most likely hindering growth overall, especially given the fact that the rest of the country saw modest gains during that time.

Some may find it unfair to criticize Walker this deeply. Yet the criticism is entirely warranted -- Walker and his Republican allies in the legislature took over both branches of government at a time when the state was experiencing a small but noticeable "upswing" in job growth and employment. In one year's time, the policies that Walker & Co. implemented have decimated that upswing, even dipping into some of the gains we saw before they took office early last year.

It's great that we gained jobs in January, but it's unclear whether the credit belongs to Gov. Walker, to President Obama, or if it's simply a fluke. Given the disastrous losses that are now evident during the first year he was in office, however, it's highly doubtful that those gains were due to any reforms the governor put into place.

The facts are there for everyone to see: we're worse off under Gov. Scott Walker's watch.

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