Saturday, January 21, 2012

Unemployment claims- the trend ain't Walker's friend (geeky)

Given the recent unemployment claim figures and job figures in both the U.S. and the state of Wisconsin, I wanted to take a look and see how we were shaping up vs. the rest of the nation when it came to new filings for unemployment. My interest was especially peaked with Thursday's DOL release, which not only showed good news for Barack Obama and the U.S. overall, but possibly Scott Walker as well.
In the week ending January 14, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 352,000, a decrease of 50,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 402,000. The 4-week moving average was 379,000, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week's revised average of 382,500...

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 521,613 in the week ending January 14, a decrease of 124,606 from the previous week. There were 549,688 initial claims in the comparable week in 2011..... the largest decreases were in Wisconsin (-7,657), Michigan (-5,208), Iowa (-4,675), New Jersey (-4,667), and Kentucky (-3,577).
Of course, this was a week after Wisconsin and Michigan were the top 2 for increased claims, so some of this is reversion to the norm, but it's still worthy of mention.

So given that seasonality and other factors make the weekly claims number a bit volatile, I wanted to take a look at how Wisconsin has fared vs. the U.S. on a year-long trend under the policies of Jim Doyle and the Dems, as well as Scott Walker and the GOP. So I took the yearly changes for this week in 2010 (reflecting Doyle/ Dem) and 2011 (reflecting Walker/ GOP), and then graphed it out. I used unadjusted claims for both the U.S. and Wisconsin, because that's what's used for state figures, and then took at look at how much Wisconsin changed vs. the U.S. in new unemployment claims.

In other words, a number below zero is good news for Wisconsin, because it means our claims dropped more than the U.S. did (on a % basis), and a number above zero means we're filling out more claims than the rest of the U.S. So here's what I got. The blue trendline reflects Doyle/ Dems, the red one reflects Walker/ GOP. (Editor's note: the huge jump at the start of 2009-2010 is mostly due to huge public sector job reductions in local 2010 budgets, and is a clear outlier that gets smoothed out within 2 weeks)

change in new unemployment claims, Wisconsin vs. U.S.

As you can see, the Doyle/Dem trend line dives below the U.S. rate in the first 2 months of 2010, and then consistently is 10-20% below the U.S. changes by the middle of the 2010, showing that Wisconsin was holding up better than the country, which at the time was just starting to show economic signs of recovery after the Great Recession. In fact, Wisconsin only did worse than the U.S. in 2 out of 44 weeks after mid-February 2010, and not surprisingly, Wisconsin averaged around 4,000 private sector jobs a month in Jim Doyle's last year in office.

So Walker and WisGOP found themselves in a winning situation at the start of 2011, which shows in red line being down around -20% vs. the U.S. when he and his boys took over in January, and it showed the nearly 16,000 jobs created in Wisconsin in the first 2 months of 2011. But then the Walker policies took over, and when Walker "dropped the bomb" in February was also the time when the red and blue lines cross on the chart, showing that his Administration wasn't faring as well as the Doyle/Dems. Right after the bomb dropped, Wisconsin was above 0 for 6 of the next 9 weeks, and were trending worse than the U.S. for the first time in over a year.

After gaining a bit of ground in the Spring (remember the fluke jobs report that Walker overpublicized despite them knowing it was a one-time deal?) , the red line had retreated back toward -10%. But notice it never reached as far down as the Doyle/Dem line , and once the Walker budget took effect on July 1, the red line started kicking back up again. Now, we've been back above 0 for 5 of the last 9 weeks, and the trendline had kicked back above 0 by the end of December.

Not that this is big news that Wisconsin has gone backward while the American economy has picked up steam in the last 6 months, but it's another chart to figure and go back to, because the action from the first 2 weeks of 2012 and Walker's shortsighted refunding of federal money is sure to keep his red lines trending up, which means our state will continue to trend least until we find a way to turn that red line back into something like the blue one.

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