Wednesday, May 16, 2012

By any standard he picks (including his own) Walker's job numbers are STILL a failure

By his own standard, Walker shows his first year in office had slower growth than his predecessor's

If there is one thing Gov. Scott Walker excels at, it's being a masterful manipulator. With a straight face he will tell you that his "reforms" are working in our schools, despite more than double the number of teacher losses and increased class sizes; he will state unequivocally that he balanced the budget without raising taxes, despite kicking debt down the road and very clearly raising taxes for the working poor by tens of millions of dollars.

And now, by manipulation of more jobs data, Walker is going to tell you he created jobs in 2011, using an entirely different standard than any other state is using at this time.

Like his other erroneous claims, Walker's news on jobs in Wisconsin should be read with a skeptical eye.

For starters, Walker is using a measurement that typically receives six months of attention, and following that usually gets a final check by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But instead of keeping with the usual schedule, and instead of receiving that third-party check from the BLS, Walker has sped things up, disregarding the final month of scrutiny and abusing a department's capabilities so that he can score political gain.

The change from one survey to another deserves the public's doubt for another reason: it's completely hypocritical to change standards now when, just a year ago, Walker was touting his performance using the same survey numbers he now rejects.

While he's certainly allowed to do this, the timing of the change brings into question his motivations for doing so, just 20 days before the recall election. It's certainly convenient that he's able to tout new numbers from a different survey just in time to make his final case for re-election.

But let's disregard the skepticism for a moment and focus on the numbers Walker is putting out there. Even if you look past the fact that they haven't been vetted by the BLS, that Walker could put ANY number out there and there'd be no way to verify it, the number he DOES put out STILL represents a failure on the part of his administration's job goals by a significant margin.

Walker promised to create 250,000 jobs in his first term of office. To keep pace with that goal, the state would need to see more than 62,000 jobs per year during that time. Even when accepting Walker's optimistic view based on his questionable projections, he only achieved a third of his goal in 2011.

Put another way, he's off his pledge by more than 40,000 jobs using his own numbers.

There's still yet another reason to be wary of celebrating Walker's "new" numbers -- they indicate a slower growth of jobs compared to the year before. When his predecessor, former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, left office, Wisconsin saw a year-to-year growth of more than 36,000 jobs in his last year. Compare that to Walker's year-to-year numbers (again, according to his own calculations), and you see a significant drop in growth, to 23,000 jobs during 2011 (Source PDF).

So even according to his "revisions," we're worse under Walker's first year than his predecessor's last in terms of job growth. That's a significant slowdown -- a 30 percent drop from one year to the next. In other words, it's NOT working -- it's WORSENING.

We shouldn't be surprised at this point that Walker is trying to change the rules so late in the game. On jobs he's blamed everything under the sun, from Obama to protesters, from health care to the debt ceiling, and everything in-between. It was only a matter of time before Walker blamed the numbers themselves.

The real mystery is when he will accept that the blame has lied with him all along.

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