Friday, April 15, 2016

Walker administration touts unrevised jobs numbers, completely forgets "gold standard"

Past revisions show initial numbers could drop by as much as 30 percent lower than what's reported this week

The most recent monthly jobs report came out earlier this week, and while the numbers look encouraging -- more than 13,000 more Wisconsinites gained employment from February to March -- the Walker administration is once again touting the report as something more than what it is.

The Department of Workforce Development produced a news released titled (PDF), “State Has Best 12-Month Private Sector Job Growth since 2004.” At first glance that provides reason to believe that things are turning around in Wisconsin.

But there’s a problem -- though the year-to-year private sector job numbers do show more than 47,500 jobs being created from March 2014 to March 2015, they are unrevised, and thus unconfirmed. Indeed, look at the same jobs report put out by DWD from a year ago -- the March 2014 to March 2015 data -- and you’ll see that the Walker administration says pretty much the same thing:
Wisconsin added 48,200 private sector jobs from March 2014 to March 2015, ranking third in the Midwest for rate of job growth.
Now if you’re like me, you just made the “huh” sound along with a very quizzical look. How could the current jobs report (47,500 jobs created) be the best since 2004 when last year’s report (48,200) showed a better performance?

The answer is simple: the numbers had been revised since that time. In fact, last year’s jobs report was revised down by more than 16 percent of its original projection.

The latest DWD report is even more disingenuous when it comes to employment. The Walker administration claims more than 51,200 Wisconsinites found work from March 2015 to March 2016. But again, this number is unrevised -- the governor claimed a very similar number (53,200 more employed) in the same report last year, which looked at employment from March 2014 to March 2015. That number was revised down by more than 30 percent, or 16,135 less employed Wisconsinites than initially claimed by Walker.

The latest jobs report shows some encouraging signs. But it’s also not the final say on jobs for that time period -- revisions have yet to be made, and if history is any indicator we should expect to see numbers slide down by significant margins.

The real story here is how Scott Walker is so willing to jump from one type of jobs report to the other without care for what he’s considered legitimate in the past. “I have been saying [all along],” he once wrote, that the quarterly jobs data “should be used to measure jobs.”

Walker has apparently abandoned that idea, without any explanation as to why his standards have changed. We should ask him for a reason why, and his administration should stop creating such glowing press releases based on monthly reports until he does.

No comments:

Post a Comment