Monday, December 21, 2015

Walker errantly blames workers for state's poor jobs numbers

"Unskilled workers" aren't a problem for the state -- this governor is

Last week it was revealed that jobs in Wisconsin were growing slower than they were on average throughout the nation.

The rate of job growth, in fact, is the worst in the Midwest since Gov. Scott Walker’s first budget passed in 2011, and the 37th worst in the nation overall since that time.

The governor didn’t miss a beat. Walker took the opportunity, on the same day that those bad numbers came out, to tout his “Wisconsin Comeback” -- which, as it turns out, was completely overblown. Wisconsin isn’t on a comeback, and much of the state readily agrees that Walker is failing as a leader.

In the face of these sad jobs numbers, Walker decided to shift the blame elsewhere, to unskilled workers in the state.
Walker said that more companies would add jobs if more workers were job-ready.

“Employers have increasingly told us, we’ve seen it even in some of the Chamber (of Commerce) surveys, that until we can get more people in the workforce, employers aren’t going to add more work until they can fill the positions that are vacant right now,” Walker said.
This isn’t unlike Walker in the slightest: in the past the governor has blamed a plethora of problems when it comes to slow jobs growth, including the recall election, protesters, former Gov. Jim Doyle, data that wasn’t (but apparently now is) the “gold standard” to go by, the fiscal cliff, and Obamacare (H/T to Political Environment for keeping track). Each of those problems were touted by Walker as to why Wisconsin was slipping, but each of those problems didn’t hinder job growth elsewhere in the country.

It’s not hard to believe that Walker would continue shifting the blame onto anyone but him for failing to meet his promise of 250,000 jobs in his first term (which we haven’t even come close to reaching one year into his second term). So seeing him blame the workers themselves isn’t that unbelievable.

Unfortunately for Walker, that line of thinking has already been suggested -- and debunked. From the Capital Times, in 2013 (emphasis in bold added):
State officials -- including Gov. Scott Walker -- [are] saying there are loads of great jobs out there if workers could improve their skills. ...

It all sounds plausible except for one thing: There may not be a major skills gap problem in the Wisconsin labor market.

A new analysis from the UW-Madison’s LaFollette School of Public Affairs released Thursday found there are enough tech school and college graduates for both the current and projected job openings in Wisconsin through 2020. It’s the second study in the past year with similar findings.
Walker may cite surveys from various Chambers of Commerce across the state. Unfortunately, those surveys are often incomplete. Additionally, they carry with them opinions on what’s failing the state, and not empirical evidence for what’s actually happening.

The state workers are trained. And for those that are not, companies should be training them.

It is not the fault of workers for the slow growth of jobs in Wisconsin. To find where the blame truly belongs, Walker needs only to look into his own mirror.

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