Friday, September 18, 2015

With slow jobs report, Alberta Darling errantly blames benefits programs

Statistical evidence shows that benefits programs actually help, not hinder, job creation overall

The state of Wisconsin improved somewhat, but it still ranks in the bottom half of states when it comes to jobs growth.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wisconsin ranked 30th overall in first quarter yearly private sector job growth. From March 2014 to March of this year, the state saw an increase of more than 39,000 jobs.

That represents a 1.7 percent growth. For comparison, the nation as a whole had a rate of growth of 2.4 percent.

For those keeping track, that’s a slower growth rate than the last first quarter report during former Gov. Jim Doyle’s last budget, which was in effect in the first half of 2011. During that first quarter report, Wisconsin grew 41,350 jobs, a 1.9 percent growth that was 16th in the nation

This year's first quarter report pales in comparison to neighboring Minnesota, which saw a liberal governor take office at the same time as our conservative governor Scott Walker did, and had a rate of growth that was 23 percent faster than Wisconsin.

But it’s not policies or jobs plans that’s the issue, according to one state lawmaker. Even the scandal-plagued Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation isn’t to blame.

No, the real problem, at least according to Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) is that benefits to people in need are making everyone too lazy.
“It’s hard to get people who have government benefits, for instance, who might be qualified for the jobs, to talk them into coming to work,” she said. “Because the individual might say, ‘You know what, I earn up to X number of dollars with my benefits from the state, and what’s the incentive for me to go out and actually work?’”
Darling says she gets this “intel” from actual business owners. But her reasoning flies in the face of research on the issue.

Unemployment compensation, for example, doesn’t make a lazy worker. The benefits eventually run out – you can’t keep claiming unemployment indefinitely. So the incentive to find work is greater than the incentive to sit on the couch.

Furthermore, there isn’t any evidence that suggests that workers are doing their best to avoid work while on unemployment.

Unemployment insurance provides a much needed boost to the economy as well, and allows people who would otherwise be part of the consumer class to continue purchasing goods and services. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office in 2014 estimated that expanding UI would generate around 200,000 extra jobs in our economy.

Alberta Darling may be talking to “job creators” about what’s the best option to stimulate our struggling economy. But the evidence suggests her anecdotal discussions are just that -- nothing more than the opinions of some wealthy people, and not statistically accurate.

It’s clear that Scott Walker’s jobs plan is failing to produce at a rate that’s comparable to the rest of the nation. We need to change course -- and that process may require the governor’s resignation.


  1. Of course they have to blame the workers for being lazy.

    Since their previous attemp to blame their failure to create jobs on a "skills gap" was proven wrong by UW Professor Marc Levine in 2012 they have to find another reason for the failure of their economic policies.

    Another election season is always coming, the Republicans need to keep their base stirred up and make sure that the blame for our stalled economy gets properly put on the people who actually had nothing to do with it.

  2. Maybe, just maybe, it's not that benefits are too generous, but that hourly pay is too low. Maybe.

  3. Darling needs to learn that it is better to keep your mouth shut and appear dumb, then to open it and remove all doubt!

  4. How unfortunate, or perhaps how telling, that a legislative leader such as Sen. Darling relies on anecdotes based, in turn, upon the impressions of a few as the basis for her policy positions.