Sunday, June 8, 2014

It's Summer, so in Wisconsin, we work

1. With the weather heating up, that means Summer driving and tourism season is also starting. The National Restaurant Association recently said 508,000 people would be hired by eating and drinking places across the country in June, July and August. Some states see a huge boom in their restaurant workforce extremely reliant on this, particularly in the Northeastern U.S.
The states projected to register the largest proportional employment increase [in eating and drinking place employees] during the 2014 summer season are Maine (33.2 percent increase), Alaska (21.0 percent increase), Delaware (18.0 percent increase), New Hampshire (16.5 percent increase) and Rhode Island (15.7 percent increase).

Due to the fact that their busiest seasons for travel and tourism are not in the summer months, two states are projected to register declines in eating and drinking place employment during the 2014 summer season: Florida (-10,700) and Arizona (-5,500).

The restaurant industry is usually the nation’s second-largest creator of summer jobs, ranking only behind the construction industry.

Wisconsin is a part of this trend of adding food-and-bar industry jobs this time of year, which is no surprise given that the bulk of our tourism is in the Summer months. We're expected to add 17,200 people in the industry, which is 9.0% more than we had in those same places in March. That 9.0 increase is good for 12th in the nation, and is the highest increase in the Midwest. It's a regular part of our state's economy, and it explains a lot of the seasonal rise in raw jobs numbers that this state sees every Summer, even in the recession years of 2008 and 2009.

Not mentioning this seasonal effect in Wisconsin led to the MacIver Institute getting a "pants-on-fire" rating by the J-S's Politi-fact for trying to claim last year that Wisconsin had added 137,000 jobs under Governor Walker. As the chart shows, they were cherry-picking the seasonal numbers between the cold-weather months of winter (when the fewest number of people are working in Wisconsin), and the Summer months (when that number is at its highest).

Walker himself pulled a similar stunt in Summer 2011, publicly taking credit for an allegedly large increase in jobs numbers despite being warned by DWD officials that they were temporary jobs that would inevitably go away.
"It's probably right in the general direction. It's the magnitude that's questionable," [Madison economist David J.] Ward said. "Does that mean that politicians don't jump on the numbers? They do."

A similar point was made in the presentation that was emailed to several of Walker's top aides by a Workforce Development official on July 18 - three days before the governor announced the figures. The email was part of a larger exchange with the governor's office on how the numbers should be presented.

"There is likely an increase of employment, however, the magnitude is suspect," the report reads.

The report said the increase in jobs was "questionable" because most of the jobs were created in tourism industries that "rarely lead employment growth" and were created outside the main metropolitan areas in the state.
This didn't stop Walker from doing "It's Working"-style press events and getting the Big Lie out there, just like how AM radio's GOP spokemodels relayed the MacIver lie last year. Not surprisingly, these numbers were revised down significantly in future reports, but don't be shocked if you see increasingly desperate WisGOPs try to make the same argument this year, as Walker's dismal job- creation record is a major weight around his re-election prospects.

On a related note, I found it interesting that the April Wisconsin jobs numbers had an increase of 2,500 seasonally-adjusted jobs in the restuarant-related Leisure and Hospitality sector, and 8,300 in the raw number. This April increase can actually go against the Wisconsin jobs numbers in the coming months, if some of these Summer jobs are getting filled ahead of time, and there isn't the typical "bump up" in May and June. With the next jobs report due out in a week and half, and blog commentator GeoffT saying in this post that May sales tax revenues sucked, it and the retail-related "Trade" Sector (up 3,700 seasonally-adjusted in April) could be an interesting sector to track.

So as the temperature and the 2014 elections heat up this Summer, you can bet WisGOP politicians will be trying to claim that Wisconsin is on the right track, and could well use Wisconsin's seasonal growth in jobs to back up their claims. We need to be ready to call out that bullshit at the moment they try to pull it, and we can use the Restaurant Association's stats and recent economic history give us the data to prove just how big a lie it is.

1 comment:

  1. The thing is, the last QCEW month that will come out before the election will be March 2014: outside of recessions, March is typically only about 10,000 better than January, and about 50,000 worse than December.

    So the only potential a MacIver/Walker-esque lie with QCEW has is to perhaps flollop over the halfway mark of the 250,000 jobs promise; and it's easily shown up by taking December as the start month instead of January.

    At this point, in order to go for a non-seasonally-adjusted option they'd have to go for monthly CES. That's decidedly difficult for them to do since while non-seasonally-adjusted QCEW is its headline figure (indeed, its only figure), CES' headline is the seasonally adjusted version. Since everyone's been keeping track of that already via the headline numbers it'd be an uphill struggle for MacIver/Walker to pull the wool over the media's eyes with that.

    I don't want to underestimate them, but their lie didn't work last time and this fall the lie would have to be far more contrived and obvious.

    I expect Walker to take a far more qualitative approach to the jobs failure issue in his messaging: on the quantitative front he's been reduced to trying to persuade people that 10,000 new "businesses" such as Scout troops will each add 10 employees any day now.

    That sounds utterly ridiculous compared to feel-good messages like "Wisconsin's new lower tax climate is encouraging companies to come here and bring jobs to our state and existing firms to expand". The point of a statement like that isn't that it's untrue in and of itself, it's that it sounds like a positive and complete picture and thus that there is no need to notice that it could be true if only four more jobs were actually added in four years.