Thursday, June 9, 2016

Broken promises and poor jobs rankings: WI is falling behind under Walker’s watch

Walker scoffs at state jobs rankings, but hails dubious CEO rankings of states

My sixth grade gym teacher used to have a sign over his door that aptly read, “RESULTS, NOT EXCUSES.” To the adolescent mind, it was corny and the butt of many jokes among my group of friends. But his methods worked, and the expression has stuck with me.

It’s clearly not a mantra that Gov. Scott Walker is familiar with.

The latest quarterly jobs report was released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics this week, detailing how each state performed over the entirety of 2015. Wisconsin didn’t fare too well, creating just 31,670 private sector jobs over the course of the year.

That sounds like a lot, but contextually it’s a big let-down. When compared to the rest of the nation we rank 36th in private sector jobs creation, and second-to-last in the Midwest ahead of only Iowa.

The state’s rate of jobs growth was 1.3 percent, significantly slower than the national rate of 2.1 percent.

We aren’t just falling behind the rest of the nation. Wisconsin’s latest rate of jobs growth is slower than what it was under Gov. Jim Doyle’s last year as governor, when it was a 1.5 percent growth, ranking us 11th in the nation in private sector jobs growth.

Over at Jake’s Economic TA Funhouse, there’s more:
This means that not only did Wisconsin private sector job growth slow down quite a bit from 2014’s 1.55%, but we were also below the 1.50% rate of job growth that Wisconsin had in 2010. That was under Jim Doyle and the Dems, and that’s the recovery rate Walker inherited when he took office, promising to make the state “open for business.” How’s that working out for us.
Jake’s full post is well-worth the read, and includes an in-depth statistical analysis of the whole BLS report.

But how has Walker reacted to the news? He’s stated quite clearly that he just doesn’t care about the rankings. From the Associated Press (emphasis in bold added)
Walker defended his record Wednesday, saying that he never made any promises about state rankings. And he notes that all the jobs lost during the recession have been recovered and Wisconsin's job participation rate is higher than the national average.
Which strikes me as odd. Gov. Walker and other state Republicans constantly cite the rankings from CEO Magazine that say Wisconsin is a great state to do business in. This metric, however, isn’t a reliable statistical analysis: it’s a survey of attitudes that CEOs have of states across the country. No data goes into the rankings whatsoever.

So for Walker, it’s fine to use these unreliable rankings in press releases, but he scoffs at the idea that he should be held to some other measure that actually looks at, you know, statistics and reliable rankings. He didn’t promise anything about rankings, after all.

But Walker DID make a promise about creating jobs, stating in 2010 that his leadership and reforms would bring in 250,000 jobs to the state by the end of his first term.

How’d he do? Five years into his tenure, and we’re still well behind that promise. We’ve created 161,823 new private sector jobs since Walker took office, about 64 percent of what Walker promised to do in a shorter span of time.

Again, that sounds like a big number. “So what,” you might ask, “maybe he didn’t make his jobs promise. We’re still moving forward. YEAH!!!!”

We are creating jobs, but when you look at how we’ve done compared to the rest of the nation we again see a pattern of falling behind. Wisconsin ranks 37th overall in creating private sector jobs from the start of Walker’s tenure to the end of 2015, and dead last overall in the Midwest.

Wisconsin's performance in red

Here's another interesting thought: had Scott Walker never assumed office, and had that rate of growth continued over the past five years, we would have created 175,510 private sector jobs, almost 14,000 more jobs than what Wisconsin created under Walker’s leadership.

We continue to lag behind the rest of the nation. And the promises on jobs that Walker made have been broken. The governor’s reforms have failed to produce the results he said they would. But rather than acknowledge his own failings, Walker continues to insist that everything’s working just fine.

Maybe it is working fine for his donor base. For many in Wisconsin, however, real economic hardships continue to persist.


  1. Thanks for the shout-out. The Walker line of "I wasn't talking about rankings when I promised 250K jobs" is a new level of pathetic. Is he claiming that the Obama Recovery would be so great that 250,000 jobs wouldn't be that nig of a deal?

    Seems quite the Freudian Slip, no?

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