Friday, August 22, 2014

#BurkePutMoreToWork -- Employment growth in WI was stronger when Burke was at Commerce

The "Wisconsin Comeback" meme put out by Walker, RPW, is in reality a "Wisconsin slowdown"

Who would be better for improving employment in Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker or Democratic rival Mary Burke?

To some, the question may seem absurd. Wisconsin has created more than 100,000 jobs under Walker’s watch. As he and the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW) have put it, we seem to be having a “Wisconsin Comeback.”

That job growth, however, is slower than it should be. Under the second year of former Gov. Jim Doyle’s last budget, which ended in June of 2011 (six months into Walker’s term), Wisconsin created 39,909 jobs. During the first year of Walker’s first budget, the state created 37,959 jobs (June 2011 to June 2012), and only 27,752 jobs in the year after that (June 2012 to June 2013).

In fact, if you average those two years of the “Wisconsin Comeback” with the first year of the state's recovery (again, which was under Doyle’s budget), it’s clear that the state’s “comeback” is slowing down under Walker’s watch.

Despite the visibly disturbing “Wisconsin Slowdown” under Walker, he and the RPW have attacked candidate for governor Mary Burke for criticizing Walker’s performance in creating jobs.

Since the RPW isn't going to recognize the slowdown for what it is, let’s take a look at a different measurement: employment. It’s important to note that jobs and employment are two different things. A single person could have three part-time jobs, and that would be reflected in a jobs count three times, but in employment it only counts once. To some, though, what matters more than how many jobs are created is how many people are employed, that is, how many have at least one job.

How has the current governor performed in that measure? Not too well. In the 43 months since Gov. Walker has been in power, employment has grown in the state by 68,210 more workers. Compare that to Doyle’s last year in office, and it’s not an impressive improvement (Walker only does about three percent better than Doyle's last year in average employment growth per month).

OK, so Walker’s years as governor is a tiny bit better than Doyle’s last year in office. But Walker isn’t running against Doyle -- he’s running against Burke, who served as Commerce Secretary under Doyle in a separate set of years, from February 2005 to November 2007. It’s only fair that we compare her time at Commerce with Walker’s record.

And when you look at that comparison, it’s clear to see Wisconsin fared better with employment growth with Burke at the helm of Commerce than it did with Walker and his Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation:

As the chart above shows, Wisconsin’s employment grew by 74,268 workers during Burke’s tenure at Commerce. That’s 6,050 more workers employed in the state under Burke than Wisconsin has seen since Walker took office.

But there’s another thing to consider: Burke’s time at Commerce was only 34 months. Walker’s been in office for about 43 months. So to get a true comparison, you have to look at their monthly average employment growth:

In the 34 months that Burke ran commerce, more than 2,184 Wisconsinites gained employment per month. In the 43 months since Walker’s been governor, only 1,586 Wisconsinites gained work per month, a rate that is 27 percent slower than Burke.

Perhaps the #WisconsinComeback campaign by Walker and the RPW needs to be tweaked a bit. A more fitting hashtag would be #BurkePutMoreToWork, in honor of the fact that more workers were hired under Burke’s watch than Walker’s.

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