Monday, July 1, 2013

Gov. Walker's "B-minus" on jobs a distorted view of his actual performance

Compared to his predecessor, and to the rest of the nation, Wisconsin is worse under Walker

On job creation, Gov. Scott Walker thinks he’s done a pretty good job.

Taking a closer look, it’s clear he needs a better understanding of what letter grades really mean.

When asked what letter grade he deserved on creating jobs, Walker said he was doing above average:
B-minus, and the reason I say that is, put it in context. My critics hone in on the 250,000 goal by the beginning of 2015. They ignore the fact that when they were in charge just a few years ago, the four years before I took over as governor, when my predecessor’s last term was in place, we lost 133,000 jobs in the state.
For someone who complains about what his critics are supposedly ignoring, the governor himself conjures up some pretty selective storytelling.

Walker neglects to point out that Wisconsin lost jobs during what can only be described as a global recession. It wasn’t the policies of his predecessor that made jobs disappear -- in fact, every state in the nation was losing jobs.

But Walker doesn’t stop at distorting the past -- he also takes credit for what’s really a lackluster performance:
Now we’ve turned that around. Not only have we seen the gain of 62,000 jobs in the first two years I was in office, but we built the foundation upon which, we’re going to, I think will be even better going forward.
It’s important to point out that Walker’s characterization of a turnaround is actually a slowdown.

During his predecessor’s final year in office, Wisconsin gained 33,658 jobs. In the two years since Walker’s been in office, we have indeed gained 62,000 jobs -- but when those two years are averaged, the rate of job growth under Walker has actually slowed by 7.78 percent when compared to the year before he took office.

In fact, Walker has yet to have a year of job growth that is higher than previous Gov. Jim Doyle’s last year in office, as shown by the graph below:

Now, if Walker says his predecessor was bad, and Walker’s numbers are actually worse, at what level is Walker’s job performance? And if our state is doing worse than the rest of the nation (nearly a full percentage point slower growth), what grade level on jobs does the governor deserve?

It certainly isn’t B-minus, which represents a “better-than-average” grade. If anything, it should be a C-minus or D.

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