Friday, September 27, 2013

Walker says -- again -- that recalls hurt job creation. Here's why he's wrong.

Governor erroneously blames recalls, protests, for a different year of slow growth

Seriously, Gov. Walker, I JUST wrote about this.

In a statement to Chicago journalists earlier today -- because heaven forbid the governor of Wisconsin actually speak on the subject in Wisconsin -- Gov. Scott Walker took time out of his schedule to explain, once again, the reason that jobs were so slow in the state had nothing to do with him or his policies:
Walker commented on a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that showed Wisconsin added private-sector jobs at a 1.1% pace in the 12-month period from March 2012 to March 2013, while the U.S. added jobs at a 2.0% rate.


“These numbers are March to March, and in March of last year, we were still three months out from the recall election,” Walker said at a press conference in Chicago, where he appeared at an economic forum. “And as I point out repeatedly, employers in the state were basically frozen until they knew what would happen in that election and the uncertainty it caused.”


“There’s no doubt in our first two years, because of the protests, the recalls, that they had an impact early on. Much as there is concern nationally about the impact of Obamacare and the impact it has on employers, they just wonder with uncertainty.”
Emphases added.

I’ve previously written on the effect on jobs that the recalls had -- or rather, didn’t have. There’s no substantial data to show that the recalls had negative effects on job creation.

But just yesterday, I also pointed out data that showed the governor’s job record has failed, and it has nothing to do with recalls or his predecessor.

In fact, taking a look at the graph above, the recalls and the protests can hardly be blamed for anything tumultuous in Wisconsin, with regards to job growth.

The protests began in February of 2011 and ended later that spring. From March 2011 to March 2012, Wisconsin grew 39,756 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Remember that, during that time, there was the tail end of the protests, State Senate recalls, the petition drive for the recall of the governor, and part of the gubernatorial recall campaign. That’s a heckuva-lot-of-stuff going on -- and despite it all, the state saw nearly 40,000 jobs gained.

Taking a look at the following year -- from March 2012 to March 2013, the year Gov. Walker was responding to reporters about -- we see a significantly large drop in jobs, from nearly 40,000 to just barely 24,000.

Yet, what Walker complains about in those job numbers were three months of recall campaigning...which is much less "uncertainty" than the twelve months of protests, recalls, and campaigning that occurred prior.

What’s more, Walker said himself that jobs in the state would grow following the recall election:
A day after becoming the country's first governor to win a recall election, a triumphant Scott Walker told his cabinet Wednesday to put their energy into creating jobs and said he was taking steps to improve bipartisanship.

"We're going to spend the remainder of this term focused like a laser beam on creating jobs," he said to the cabinet.


Walker said he expects employers to start hiring in the next several weeks, now that they know the changes he has pursued in state policies over the past 17 months will not be sidelined by a different administration.
Emphasis added.

Walker didn’t say the effects of the recall would linger for months or even years -- he said employers would start hiring within weeks of his recall victory.

Gov. Walker wants to blame everything he can so that his performance on job creation doesn’t look so bad. Yet Walker has no one to blame but himself. The year that the senatorial recalls and protests occurred (with most of the campaigning for the gubernatorial recall occurring as well) saw more job growth than the year where only three months of recalls happened.

Walker thinks that three months of “uncertainty” is more burdensome on job creation than 12 months of the same political circumstances. Such thinking shows exactly why he can’t be trusted to create the conditions needed to grow jobs in the state.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Job woes continue to plague Scott Walker as WMC ads distort his record

Lacking contextual meaning, WMC ads conceal Walker's dismal job creation record

Recent advertisements in support of Gov. Scott Walker are trying to highlight new ratings made by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve.

According to the Philadelphia Fed, Wisconsin now ranks as second in the country in terms of potential economic growth.

On the surface, that ranking sounds like things are finally turning the corner in Wisconsin. After months and years of lagging, finally we’re at the top of the country in an economic ranking!

But the context of that ranking is significant. It doesn’t mean that Wisconsin is poised to be the next-to-best state in the country. Rather, it means Wisconsin has the second best chance of seeing positive growth in the next six months.

Part of that is due to some economic recovery. But a good portion of where that ranking is coming from is the fact that, since Wisconsin has faltered for so long, it has nowhere but upwards to move.

Case in point: the recent quarterly survey of jobs shows that Wisconsin is 34th in the nation in private sector job growth.

Indeed, job growth in the state has slowed significantly since Walker’s plans and initiatives have been implemented, as evidenced in the graph below:

The blue bar in the graph above shows private sector job growth from March 2010 to March 2011. During that period, Gov. Jim Doyle’s budget was in place for the entire time (even as Walker was governor for the last three months). Total job growth was 41,350 private sector jobs.

The next year -- from March 2011 to March 2012, the purple bar above -- saw a minor drop in total job growth. This year had three months of Gov. Doyle’s budget still in place with the remaining nine months being Walker’s very first budget being enacted. Total growth was 39,756 jobs, a drop of about 3.9 percent from the previous year.

But the last year for which data is available -- from March 2012 to March 2013, the red bar above -- saw a tremendous drop in private sector job growth. 24,305 private jobs were created, a 41 percent drop in growth from the 2010-11 job growth numbers.

While it’s true that jobs are still being created, it’s hardly the case that things are better off now than they were when Walker wasn’t yet governor. Indeed, the way that lobby groups like Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce put it, you’d think that Wisconsin has stepped up big time when it comes to economic prowess compared to the rest of the nation.

In reality, however, Wisconsin is falling behind. Without the context of the Philadelphia Fed ranking, WMC’s jobs ads serve only one purpose -- to distort Walker’s jobs performance, and to confuse the state into believing he’s done good for the state.

The truth is that the state has slowed down in a big way, in terms of jobs growth. And Walker cannot escape that fact, no matter how many millions of dollars his lobbyist friends want to throw behind him.

Monday, September 16, 2013

How to "succeed" at job creation, the Scott Walker way

Job creation claims by the Walker administration are crafted to look better than they are

Scott Walker’s book, the upcoming “Unintimidated,” should be a magician’s manual.

With all the smoke and mirrors he and his lackeys throw around surrounding his supposed economic successes, Walker really is the king of illusion. Or maybe delusion.

There are three especially callous ways in which Gov. Walker tries to swindle the people of Wisconsin into believing his bogus claims on jobs.

The first: he showcases surveys that are meaningless.

Take, for example, a survey that Gov. Walker touted showing that Wisconsin had jumped from the 41st best state in the nation to do business in to 17th place. That’s a significant gain...but without the context of how the rankings are crafted, it doesn’t mean much.

It means even less when the context IS given. The rankings in that particular survey ask more than 500 CEOs across the nation to rank states based on perceptions of states’ business climates...not their actual empirical rankings measured by data, but rather attitudes of people running companies. While such rankings can have some importance to them, they typically mean nothing when it comes to measuring or ranking states in meaningful ways.

Because Walker had been in the news quite a bit for his work against public unions, Wisconsin got a big jump in the rankings -- not for actually creating more business opportunities, but for implementing policies that CEOs liked.

The second way that the governor showcases his falsified credentials is by taking advantage of his predecessor’s job gains and claiming them as his own. In the 2012 recall, Gov. Walker claimed that his “reforms” were responsible for creating over 20,000 jobs.

But a closer look at the year in its entirety reveals that a majority of those job gains occurred while Walker’s budget wasn’t in play, when Gov. Jim Doyle’s budget was still in effect, and that a net loss occurred when Walker’s budget was implemented:

Another example of Walker taking credit when it wasn’t due is revealed in his tricky wording on unemployment numbers. Walker once said, “We went from unemployment at 9.2 percent when I decided to run for governor four years ago to two points lower.”

While technically true, it places the start of Walker’s barometer on jobs at a time when he wasn’t even in charge of the state -- when he simply decided to run for office, not when he was actually in office.

As PolitiFact Wisconsin points out, Walker is again taking credit for numbers that happened under Doyle’s watch:
Here’s the timeline:
-- From its 9.2 percent peak in June-July 2009, the rate fell almost monthly during the late stages of Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s second term, dropping 1.4 points to the 7.8 percent mark in December 2010 when Doyle left office.

So exactly two-thirds of the drop Walker mentions happened on his predecessor’s watch.

-- After Walker took office in January 2011, the rate ticked down but was essentially flat for nine months before falling slowly to 6.7. Then it reversed course early in 2013, taking some of the luster off the positive trend. That left the total drop during Walker’s time at 0.7 points.
Emphases mine.

Lastly, Walker uses a third method of manipulating economic statistics that is highly overlooked -- that of crediting himself with job gains after significant losses have already occurred under his watch.

Earlier today, Gov. Walker tweeted a new “success,” that teacher jobs in Wisconsin had gone up over the past year. Citing a story from the Fond du Lac Reporter, Walker stated the following:

A growth in the number of teachers makes it sound like Walker’s reforms haven’t had an effect on the quality of education. But there’s a few problems there.

First, the number of teachers being hired is quite minimal from this year to last. A total of 156 net positions were added over the entirety of the state, a net increase of just 0.26 percent.

Second, those gains still have a long ways to go to make up for the losses during the years prior. Looking at Gov. Walker’s tenure alone, there was a 2.38 percent loss in teachers (PDF) from when Act 10 was implemented to the following school year. In other words, the small gains in this year’s hiring covers just barely a tenth of those losses.

Image from
Whether we look at the private sector or the public sector, Walker’s claims on jobs are highly inflated. While there has been some minimal growth, he has yet to match or surpass the last year of his predecessor’s job gains in any of the single-year job growth numbers he has produced while in office.

What’s more, the rate of job creation for Wisconsin has slowed significantly under Walker’s watch. Where the state once surpassed the national rate of job growth, under Walker Wisconsin’s job growth is now slower than the country as a whole (PDF).

He can play his games all he wants, even having his lackeys creating exaggerated commercials “thanking” him for bringing supposedly better business conditions in the state. But the people aren’t falling for the act -- Wisconsinites will know, come 2014, that Scott Walker has failed to make things better.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Democratic infighting over Mary Burke is overblown

Leftists and moderates should focus on the bigger picture, and not quibble over the party's methods

To Burke, or not to Burke. That is the question.

Well, not really. No one is being forced to support Mary Burke as a candidate for governor at this point, and any notions that suggest otherwise are overblown accounts of what the Democratic Party of Wisconsin is really doing.

The infighting among Democrats in Wisconsin about Mary Burke has less to do with her policy positions and more to do with how she’s becoming a candidate.

Mary Burke is considering a run for governor
To be sure, there are definitely some party members who find her views to be wrong for them personally, with several going so far as to say that they couldn’t support her candidacy were she the eventual nominee for the party.

While they may say that now, it’s hard to imagine any Democrats, who are so ardently against current Gov. Scott Walker, sitting on their hands in 2014 if Burke wins the nomination. She may have some moderate viewpoints, but her overall character far surpasses the current governor’s extreme tone, and she’d be a much more preferable option to these holdouts than another four years of Walker.

The real criticism of Burke as a potential candidate, however, is not what she’s said or done, but rather what actions the party has taken in supposedly propping her up as a frontrunner.

Some have described Burke’s interactions with party insiders as “back door dealings,” bringing forth disturbing imagery of smoke-filled rooms and party bosses strategizing ways to keep her the frontrunner and edging out all other possible contenders.

Whether or not one agrees with Burke as a candidate, this description of her is not wholly correct. While it may seem like the party is trying to accommodate Burke more so than any other potential candidates, the reality is that Burke is the most serious person considering a run at this time.

Until another candidate steps forward, making their potential candidacy understood as clearly as Burke has, the actions of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin shouldn’t be construed as preferential treatment.

The leftists and the moderates in the party need to reconcile their differences. Starting such infighting so early, over the idea that the party is allegedly pushing one candidate more than any other, shouldn’t deter the overall goal of ousting Scott Walker from office.

If there’s a primary, Burke will have to win it; if there isn’t, it won’t be due to the party preventing one from happening.

Anyone who is a Democrat can run for the nomination, and the DPW can’t stop candidates from forcing Burke (or anyone else) from facing challengers before the general election.

Let’s end the infighting, stop with the conspiracy theories, and focus on the issues that matter more than anything else: where Burke or other candidates stand, where the party stands, and whether each potential nominee would be a suitable fit for office accordingly.