Sunday, April 27, 2014

Two examples on how the Walker administration touts doubtful jobs/economic numbers

Revised Philly Fed numbers show we weren't doing as well as Walker previously said; and the administration moves towards using a job measurement it previously criticized

Two items from this weekend are worth talking about, showcasing how the Walker administration is trying to pull the wool over your eyes with dubious numbers. Hat tips to John Peterson and Jud Lounsbury for bringing these up.

John Peterson from Democurmudgeon points out that the Walker administration is once again using numbers from the month-to-month estimates put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, despite previously being critical of those numbers before the recall.

Jud Lousbury from Uppity Wisconsin notes that the Philadelphia Fed numbers that Walker touted last year have been revised, changing our ranking from second-best economy in the nation to below the national average.

For my take on both matters, click the link below.

Job estimates: from monthly, to back to monthly?

Walker previously used monthly jobs statistics in the early months of his governorship to tout that his policies were working. There was just one problem: during the first few months of Walker’s governorship, the previous budget (signed into law by former Gov. Jim Doyle) was in play.

Barely any policy of Walker’s had been implemented at that point. Even the controversial Act 10 wasn’t yet enacted, being held up in court battles until around the time that Walker’s budget was passed.

After Walker’s budget came into play, the new month-by-month estimates showed slower jobs growth, and losses in some cases, at which point the governor decided it was time to use the quarterly measure instead of the monthly one...

...just in time for the recall election.

The media took the bait hook-line-and sinker, believing that these numbers demonstrated a better jobs outlook than previously estimated.

Yet, when comparing them to the previous year’s numbers, it seemed that Walker’s policies had done almost nothing to change Wisconsin for the better, decreasing in the number of jobs created as well as the rate of growth from 2011 to 2012. The second quarter 2013 numbers were also much, much worse, a slowdown of jobs growth by significant margins (see graph below).

With the election looming, however, the Walker administration wants to amp up its PR...which is precisely why Gov. Scott Walker is now saying that, “in 2013 we had the largest, the best, private sector job growth we’ve had in this state since the 1990s.”

This time, however he’s using the monthly estimates to make this claim -- numbers that PolitiFact Wisconsin says are “subject to change.”

Philly Fed revises its numbers, says Wisconsin was doing worse than average

Speaking of numbers that are subject to change, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve released numbers last year that said Wisconsin had the second-best ranked economy in the nation. The Philly Fed cautioned against looking at these numbers in an official way, but that didn’t stop Scott Walker from touting them in speeches and press releases saying so.

This week, the Fed released revisions to those numbers...and the story isn’t good for Walker or Wisconsin. Instead of having the second-best index, Wisconsin’s economy ranked 39th in the nation (.xls), according to those revisions.

No word yet on whether the Walker administration will acknowledge the revised numbers, much less retract the earlier produced media touting Wisconsin as having a fantastic economy.

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