Tuesday, March 7, 2017

National jobs report puts Wisconsin at 32nd (and 37th since Walker took office)

To put it bluntly: It’s (STILL) not working.

Last week, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development released its quarterly report on year-over-year jobs gains, from September of 2015 to September of 2016. As I mentioned on Thursday, the numbers weren’t that great:
The DWD reports that 25,608 private sector jobs were created from September 2015 to September 2016. It sounds like a large number on its own, but don’t be fooled: that’s a very, very low number. It’s also a growth rate of just 1.03 percent — which is 26 percent slower than the previous year’s rate.
Gov. Scott Walker and his administration have taken to releasing the state’s jobs report earlier than the rest of the nation, a relic of a strategy that was instituted in order to fluff up his jobs numbers before his recall election. Walker has previously called the yearly report, released each quarter, the “gold standard” of jobs reports because, unlike the monthly report, it takes a look at payroll reports from 19 out of every 20 businesses in Wisconsin.

But in recent years that hasn’t been the case — it’s become evident that the state has seen a slowdown under Walker’s watch, even when using the metrics of the “gold standard” reports. So Walker & Co. have begun spinning the numbers in the monthly releases, knowing full well that they haven’t been fully vetted yet (a criticism they once hurled at those reports themselves). Even in the most recent yearly report, the Walker administration tried to shift to the positive growth in weekly income for the average worker, rather than acknowledge the weak jobs gains year-over-year. (Remember this for later, though...)

On Tuesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its jobs reports from all fifty states plus DC. The numbers demonstrate that Wisconsin continues to lag behind the rest of the nation, and has done poorly ever since Scott Walker became governor.

There are three takeaways you should take from this report.

1. Wisconsin ranks 32nd in the nation from 2016 to 2017

Wisconsin grew 25,562 private sector jobs from September 2015 to September 2016. That represents a rate increase of just 1.05 percent, and is a slower jobs growth than the previous year (26 percent slower, in fact).

Compared with the rest of the nation, that’s terrifyingly low — as Wisconsin Public Radio reports, private sector jobs grew twice as fast, on average, in states outside of Wisconsin.

2. Wisconsin ranks 37th in the nation since 2011, when Scott Walker took office

When the first 3rd quarter year-over-year jobs report under Walker’s tenure came out, Wisconsin created more than 41,000 jobs. Don’t be fooled, however: nine months of that yearly report were under a different (and Democratic) budget, passed by Scott Walker’s gubernatorial predecessor Jim Doyle. So much of the credit for that report goes to him, not Walker.

Since that report, Walker has not been able to surpass that last year of Doyle’s rate of 3rd quarter year-over-year private sector jobs growth. Not. Once.

As a result, Wisconsin’s rankings compared to the rest of the nation during Walker’s tenure are shockingly low: only 14 states have done worse than Wisconsin since 2011 in terms of jobs creation, and 36 states plus DC have done better than us. Of the states that border Wisconsin, only Iowa has done worse during that same timeframe.

3. Income gains aren’t as spectacular as Walker is making them out to be

Don’t get me wrong: whenever incomes go up, things are good for the state in the long run. But as Jake’s Economic TA Funhouse points out, the report “hasn't translated into significantly higher tax revenues” for the state, meaning something fishy is going on.

I’ve also pointed out in the past that these wage reports don’t always demonstrate there are better incomes for most Wisconsinites. In fact, if CEOs are getting richer while the rest of us are getting poorer or staying the same, it can skew the results upward in a dishonest way.

Within this latest report, there’s even more reason to delay the praises for Walker: while weekly wages went up, they did so for most of the country as well. Wisconsin is ranked 25th in wage increases, which means we’re not that spectacular after all.

Again, wages going up is a good thing. But there are two questions to ask here: 1) are the wages for middle class Wisconsinites going up, or is this measure being skewed somehow? And, 2) is Wisconsin’s improvement simply part of a larger nationwide trend of improvement, having nothing to do with Walker’s reforms at all?


Later on this week, I intend to provide insights into how we can grow our jobs in the state. It’s clear that the current way isn’t working — Walker’s so-called “reforms” haven’t provided a huge rate of growth, haven’t attracted new businesses to the state, and haven’t created incentives for businesses already here to hire more.

Simply put, this latest jobs report confirms that things are moving too slowly. Wisconsin lags behind while the rest of the nation is seeing much more success.

No comments:

Post a Comment