Friday, December 9, 2016

Six years on, Walker’s failed jobs promise should be remembered

State would have created 55,000 100,000+ (see update) additional jobs if it had kept pace with US average

UPDATE: I'm not a statistician by nature, but I do like to look at numbers from time to time. Still, when I mix up the numbers, I'll admit to it -- and Jake made sure to correct me. See why the state is actually 100,000 or more jobs behind at Jake's Economic TA Funhouse (and thanks for the catch!)

Scott Walker made a very ambitious claim more than six years ago during his first campaign for governor. He claimed that, if elected, his policies would create 250,000 private sector jobs in his first term in office.

It’s important to remember a promise like that because Walker was elected, in large part, because of it. At the time his critics lambasted him for pulling the number out of thin air. Walker chose the number specifically because it had been done in the past, but his six-point plan didn’t explain specifically how he had arrived at the number for himself -- even when it was blown up to size 50-font to make it 68 pages long (yes, that actually happened).

We're six years out from that promise, so Wisconsin should be in pretty good shape by now...right?

The newest quarterly jobs report was released this week, detailing job gains in all fifty states, plus DC, from June 2015 to June 2016. Where does Wisconsin rank?

In officially creating 25,105 private sector jobs during that time, Wisconsin is ranked 31st among the states and DC. Heck, Wisconsin is even behind the U.S. Virgin Islands from June 2015 to June 2016. The territory created jobs at a rate of 1.04 percent from year-to-year; Wisconsin’s rate was 1.02 percent. Overall, the U.S. grew jobs at about 1.5 percent year-over-year.

The second quarter federal jobs report shows that the economy in Wisconsin is still struggling more than six years since Gov. Scott Walker’s promise to make the state a leader in jobs growth. The promise to create 250,000 jobs in his first four years is a failed one, even with two and a half more years to get the job done.

The second quarter jobs report provides an additional advantage for observation: it was in the second quarter of 2011 that Scott Walker’s first Republican rubber-stamped budget went into effect. We can easily see how Wisconsin under Walker’s watch has done, and compare it against the rest of the nation during that five year period.

Since 2011, Wisconsin has grown private sector jobs at a rate of 6.99 percent. That’s an average rate of growth of about 1.4 percent per year.

That sounds pretty decent, but don’t celebrate quite yet: the U.S. rate of private sector jobs growth during that same timeframe was about 9.39 percent, or about 1.88 percent per year. In other words, the rest of the nation has, on average, created jobs at a rate that’s 34 percent faster than Wisconsin.

If we had created jobs at the national average rate, Wisconsin would have created more than 55,000 additional jobs over the past five years. But we didn’t create jobs at the national rate -- and have instead seen 20 consecutive quarters of below-average jobs growth in the state since Walker’s first budget took effect.

Scott Walker said in 2011 that his top three priorities for the state would be “jobs, jobs, and jobs.” Yet Wisconsin has fallen behind the rest of the nation on every private sector jobs metric. It's important to remember his promises from six years ago, because apparently they don't matter to the governor anymore.


  1. Must be talking about all the Democrats that Wisconsin voters sent packing, Rusty, Mark Harris, Tom Nelson, Julie Lassa. So sooy it's hard for a Progressive to find a job in Wisconsin or for that matter in MN anymore. Dayton and his policies have now lost the DFL party both house. Best send them to California they still buy into tax and spend, only problem is being $500 billion in unfounded liabilities.

  2. Chris- You are being far too kind to Walker here.

    You're comparing TOTAL US job growth of 9.39% to PRIVATE SECTOR job growth in Wisconsin of 6.99%. The apples-to-apples comparison makes Scott Walker look even worse.

    US private sector job growth Jun 2011-Jun 2016 +12.34%
    Wisconsin private sector job growth Jun 2011-Jun 2016 +6.99%

    This means the Walker jobs gap is more like 115,000, not 55,000. And it'll likely be worse in 2