Thursday, August 28, 2014

Newest quarterly job numbers show a continued “Wisconsin Slowdown” under Walker

Predecessor's share of jobs created during Wisconsin's recovery is higher in proportion to time his budget was in play

You can say this about the governor: his optimism, despite the evidence of his policy failures, is surely something to envy.

There’s no other explanation for how this governor can continue to say things are “working” in Wisconsin.

After Madison’s WKOW published a story describing how the state had delayed its regularly scheduled release of the quarterly job numbers (a fact that was noticed by Jud Lounsbury five days ago), the Department of Workforce Development issued a presser that showed the state had gained 28,653 jobs from March 2013 to March 2014.

In the release, Secretary Reggie Newson said, “After losing 133,000 private sector jobs during the four years before Governor Walker took office, the latest 12-month actual jobs data available shows Wisconsin's economy is continuing to grow and add jobs for Wisconsin's working families.”

If that doesn’t sound familiar to you, it should: Walker, in his political advertising, continuously states that 133,000 jobs figure. And just like Walker, Newson leaves out the context that the state was immersed in a global economic recession at that time.

One has to wonder why Newson, a public employee who is supposed to serve the people of this state, is touting a line from Gov. Walker’s campaign. Perhaps Walker’s people are merely coordinating with the DWD? At this point, the list of people Walker’s campaign ISN’T coordinating with may be smaller than the list of people he IS.

But let’s ignore the suspicious use of campaign rhetoric by Newson for a moment. Are these numbers a positive sign of growth for the state? A positive number is, after all, a move in the right direction. But could we be doing better?

It turns out we DID do better, before our current governor took office. Scott Walker isn’t the sole proprietor of the “Wisconsin Comeback,” as he likes to call it -- recovery in the state began during then-Gov. Jim Doyle’s tenure in 2010. And since Walker took office, the recovery has slowed substantially.

Let’s compare first quarter job numbers with each other. We can call Q1-2011 a “mostly-Doyle” time -- from March 2010 to March 2011, Doyle was governor for nine out of 12 months. What’s more, those first three months of 2011 were under Doyle’s last budget, which ended in June 2011. So for the MOST part, the Q1-2011 job report is Doyle’s to claim.

How did Wisconsin fare during this time? Private sector job growth rose by 41,350 jobs, a rate of growth of 1.9 percent over that year.

That’s right: a Doyle period of job growth produced over 144 percent of what we saw happen during the latest quarterly numbers released by Walker.

In fact, under Walker Wisconsin’s yearly private sector job growth rate was, on average, about 1.42 percent. That’s more than 25 percent slower than what our recovery was under Doyle’s final first quarter performance (again, which occurred from 2010 to 2011).

Look at the graph below to see the real story:

And even though his budget represented only 25 percent of the period of time expressed above, Gov. Doyle’s last budget produced more than 30 percent of the yearly first quarter jobs gained during that time.

Doyle's budget represents 25% of the time but 30% of the jobs created
We’re not experiencing a “Wisconsin Comeback.” We’re witnessing a “Wisconsin Slowdown” with Walker in charge.


The most troubling thing about this whole jobs mess? That the governor continues to try to make it seem better, even when it’s clear job growth isn't improving. In his latest campaign ad he touts the July 2013 to July 2014 private sector jobs created, using the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly stats.

Walker praised those same numbers in 2011, but changed his tune when they started to turn sour. In 2012, Walker announced he would start releasing the BLS quarterly numbers a month early -- conveniently allowing him to produce positive job growth numbers just weeks before his recall election.

Since that time, Walker’s DWD has released those numbers a month before their official release, calling them the gold standard over the monthly numbers. But the summer release of December’s yearly jobs numbers came with the release of the state’s unemployment numbers, and were buried in that report without a title stating they were even there to read.

That Walker and DWD released these latest numbers only after pressure from a news organization should speak volumes. It seems the governor is embarrassed, and is using whatever data is available to him that could possibly put him in good standing, even if his administration has previously described that data as “flawed and a poor indicator of the true economic outlook in Wisconsin.”

Whatever works for him, the governor will take it. Inconsistency and manipulation of the facts seems to be his favorite campaign strategy. Don’t fall for it.

1 comment:

  1. Scott Walker needed 62,500 jobs per year to reach 250,000 jobs. Another 12 month period with only 28,000 jobs is terrible. #OneTermWalker