Thursday, March 28, 2013

Latest jobs data shows we were better off before Gov. Walker

State rankings and wage increases were higher under Gov. Doyle's last year of office

We knew Wisconsin’s job numbers were pretty bad. But recently released data sheds some light into how rough they really are.

From September 2011 to September 2012, Wisconsin jobs grew at an annual rate of just 0.9 percent. Only seven states and territories did worse than Wisconsin, ranking the Badger State at number 44 in the nation in terms of job growth.
A Walker-vs-Doyle comparison on jobs

Regionally, although not by huge margins, neighboring states did better than Wisconsin. Minnesota (1.0 percent) was the closest to Wisconsin’s rate, while Michigan more than doubled our growth (2.0 percent). Illinois and Iowa (1.4 and 1.3 percent, respectively) also showed higher rates.

Wisconsin also fared worst of the states in the region in terms of private sector wage losses. In all, in the one-year time period our state employee yearly wages dropped by $884 -- or about a 2.2 percent decrease.

Only three states nationally saw their workers’ weekly wages go up, with one of the three being Minnesota (an increase of 0.3 percent). Michigan saw a drop of 1.6 percent, Iowa a decrease of 0.3 percent, and Illinois saw wages go down by 1.4 percent. So while states in the area also saw decreases, none did worse than Wisconsin.

Overall, Wisconsin ranked 45th in wage gains/losses among the states, and fared worse than three non-state geographical areas, Puerto Rico, Washington D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In September 2011, we had ranked as the 31st best-paid private sector state to live in. Before Walker had taken office, our ranking was even better, at 30th in the nation. We have since dropped to 32nd as of September 2012, not a significant change but a definite step in the wrong direction.

Nearly 50,400 jobs have been created from the time Gov. Scott Walker took office to September 2012. That sounds like a significant number -- but keep in mind, that’s over a period of 21 months, amounting to about 2,400 jobs per month.

Remember that Walker promised to create 250,000 jobs in his first term in office. As of September 2012, we are 199,600 jobs shy of that promise. To reach his pledge, Wisconsin would need to triple its current rate of job growth over the next two years, a feat that seems unlikely to happen.

And while 50,400 jobs sounds like a lot to have created, keep in mind the number of people with jobs -- a different survey altogether, counting the number of people actually working in Wisconsin -- has been growing even slower.

In December 2010, the month before Scott Walker became governor, Wisconsin had 2,826,494 citizens working. The current estimate for December of 2012, two years into Walker’s first term, has 2,844,482 Wisconsinites working -- an increase of just 17,988 more people working in the state.

It’s remarkable that the governor thinks that jobs are a mark of improvement in his time in office. While it has been positive, job growth has stagnated under Walker's watch, slowing considerably compared to the last year in office his predecessor.

In fact, from December 2009 to December 2010, the last year of Gov. Jim Doyle’s last term in office, Wisconsin’s job growth was 1.5 percent. The state’s average employee wages also went up that year by $1,612.

So where exactly are things working? How is the state better off, in terms of job creation, under Scott Walker? Under his leadership, job growth has slowed, and wages have decreased. If that’s what he considers “the successes that we’ve had” under his tenure, then we’re in worse shape than we originally thought.

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