Friday, October 16, 2015

State still has more unemployed workers under Walker than before the Recession

Wisconsin reduced number of unemployed workers at a faster rate under former Gov. Jim Doyle than Walker

With another monthly jobs report just released (PDF) this week, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development is bragging about the unemployment rate reaching a 14-year low of 4.3 percent. This is despite the fact that 1,300 private sector workers lost their jobs last month.

Nevertheless, we should celebrate this success for what it is, right?

Unfortunately, the unemployment rate is a bit of a misnomer at times. It doesn’t tell the whole story of what’s happening in our state. Taking a look at the raw number of unemployed persons, for example, reveals a startling fact.

In March of 2008, shortly before the recession began in Wisconsin, we had 135,795 workers that were unemployed. Today, under Gov. Scott Walker’s “bold leadership,” we have 137,400 workers that are unemployed.

We have more unemployed individuals now than we had before the Great Recession. That means, for all of his bluster and spinning, Wisconsin hasn’t recovered yet under Gov. Walker with regard to the number of workers currently on unemployment.

For comparison’s sake, Minnesota recovered to its pre-recession number of unemployed persons back in 2013. There are less individuals unemployed in the Gopher State than before the recession.

This is why we can’t look at the unemployment rate without providing necessary context. Propping up the unemployment rate alone makes it sound like we have made an immense improvement. While things have improved, they’ve done so at a rate that is staggeringly slow.

Our unemployment rate is lower -- but we have not yet reached the same numbers of unemployed workers since before the recession occurred. We have more unemployed workers now than at that time.

Many right-wing supporters of Gov. Walker -- including the governor himself -- have errantly tried to imply (through ad campaigns and comments on news articles alike) that the loss in jobs and workers was all due to Doyle, without providing the background of the global economic recession’s effects on the labor force in the state. But even when we compare Doyle’s post-recession numbers to Walker’s, it’s clear that the current governor’s “bold agenda” is failing us.

Recovery began while Jim Doyle was still in office. And Wisconsin lessened its unemployment totals by about 2,412 workers every month during the last 18 months of the Doyle budget (which extended into June of 2011).

Under Walker, that number has slowed, to about 2,036 less workers on unemployment per month.

That’s still the right direction to go in. But it’s a rate that’s more than 15 percent slower than what Gov. Doyle’s pace was.

Walker’s supporters often tout how much better we are under his watch as compared to Doyle. They also like to selectively ignore a few significant historical events like a global recession.

But here it is, more than four years into Walker’s tenure as governor, and we’re pacing slower, in terms of removing individuals from the unemployment lines, compared to his predecessor.

Wake up, Walker supporters. It’s. Not. Working.

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