Sunday, June 22, 2014

So what if Wisconsin gained some jobs and lowered unemployment- they should

With the release of the state-by-state jobs report for May 2014 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday, we now have a little more context behind the Wisconsin DWD's May jobs release that came out on Thursday. For May, Wisconsin actually lost jobs on a seasonally-adjusted basis (1,000 total, 400 in the private sector), while 36 states gained jobs, and the U.S. as a whole gained 217,000. But that came on the heels of two Wisconsin increases of a combined 16,100 private sector jobs, so some reversion could be expected.

And that's the spin that the DWD was putting out on Friday, as they tried yet another, "It's Working" release that included the following stats.
Wisconsin's unemployment rate had a statistically significant decrease between May 2013 and May 2014. (2014 5.7% v. 2013 6.8%). Wisconsin's unemployment rate has fallen for 10 consecutive months.

Wisconsin has a statistically significant private-sector job (Current Employment Statistics) increase between May 2013 and May 2014 at 38,100, which ranked 18th nationally.

Wisconsin had a statistically significant total nonfarm job (CES) increase between May 2013 and May 2014 at 47,500, which ranked 14th nationally and the best of total nonfarm job growth rate of any neighboring state.

In isolation, these numbers sound pretty good. But let's look at the nationwide and Midwestern scene and put it in perspective. First of all, we know that more than 11,000 of those gains are overestimated, as I have previously noted, as the monthly numbers listed an increase of 39,700+ private sector jobs in 2013 vs. 28,141 in the recently-released QCEW. So let's drop those year-over-year numbers to 36,500 total and 27,100 private, which isn't all that impressive at all. And I won't even mention the 9,400 increase in government jobs that has taken place, which kind of belies that whole "conservative, small government" thing.

As for unemployment haing a "statstically significant decrease"? SO WHAT! 22 other states had drops in their unemployment rate of 1.1% or more. 9 other states had unemployment rates of 5.0% or less a year ago, so they were near full employment already. Walker deserves little to no credit for a declining unemployment rate in Wisconsin, as most of the states that had relatively high unemployment in May 2013 did as well or better at getting people back to work as Wisconsin did.

In fact, among the 5 Midwestern states that had unemployment rates over 6.0% in May 2013 (the 5 east of the Mississippi), Wisconsin's drop is the LOWEST.

Unemployment drops, Midwest, May 2013-May 2014
Ind. -2.0%
Ohio -1.9%
Ill. -1.7%
Mich -1.4%
Wis. -1.1%

In addition, Wisconsin's unemployment rate of 5.7% is NOT statistically significant from the nation's 6.3%, unlike Minnesota, Iowa, and Ohio. There's no accomplishment here, and in fact, the numbers suggest that it's the national recovery under President Obama that's lifting the state past the regressive Walker/WisGOP policies.

And that fact is no better illustrated than the Walker jobs gap, which grew yet again with May's job losses. We're now more than 58,000 private sector jobs behind where we'd be if we merely kept up with the rest of the country, and more than 51,000 jobs overall.

So if the Walker Administration wants to toot their own horn and claim that Wisconsin is propspering, there's only one proper two-word response. "THANKS OBAMA!" And no thanks to Walker and WisGOP.

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