Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Large batches of Wisconsin jobs, budget data comnig out

Tomorrow kicks off two days of huge amounts of Wisconsin economic data. First of all, we should see the release of the "gold standard" Quarterly Census on Employment Wages for the June 2013-June 2014 time period, and the Walker Administration has indicated that it'll show the state added just over 35,000 private sector jobs in this time period. If that number holds up, it would be an increase of 1.47%, which is above the 1.2% and 1.3% figures we've generally seen for the year prior, but it's still well below the 1.9% we had in March 2011 (when Act 10 was passed by the State Legislature) and 1.7% in June 2011 (when Scott Walker's first budget took effect.

We also get to see how Wisconsin matches up with the rest of the nation and its Midwestern brethren. We've consistently been between 30th and 40th since the policies of the Age of Fitzwalkerstan started taking effect, and given that US jobs numbers began to pick up with consistency in the Spring of 2014 (and will be included in this report), I see no reason to think that trend won't continue. The other question is to see if Wisconsin is out of the cellar for the first 3 1/2 years of the Age of Fitzwalkerstan, or not.

Later in the afternoon, we should see the release of the state's jobs numbers for November. With the US having that blowout increase of 321,000 jobs for November, this means that anything less than 6,800 jobs in Wisconsin means that the state falls further behind, jacking up the Walker jobs gap past the 72,500 that it was already at in October.

Then on Friday, two more reports are scheduled to drop. The first is the state-by-state jobs and unemployment figures, where we get to compare Wisconsin's situation with the rest of the country, and it might inspire me to take another look at how the Midwest's "(right to) work for less" states do against the ones that don't have those provisions. In addition, the third Friday of the month is usually when the monthly revenue figures for the State of Wisconsin come out. With the state staring at budget deficits due to revenue shortfalls for both this fiscal year, and the next budget, this report takes on some extra interest. And WKOW's Greg Neumann dropped this little bit of news today from Gov Walker's Capitol photo op with Senate Republicans, which gives a bit of a clue as to what to expect from the report from the Department of Revenue.

So keep your eyes and ears open for the next 48 hours, as there will likely be plenty of lame attempts to distract from the reality on the ground, especially if the jobs and revenue numbers disappoint. Bad reports would sure explain all of Walker's tweets today about lower property tax bills, which are the result of giving $406 million in extra funding to technical colleges solely to cut the levies associated with those institutions. What Walker isn't telling people is that this move (listed as item 13 on this list from the LFB) was made without offsetting the extra funding in taxes (driving up the deficit as a result). Bad budget info would expose this as the cynical gimmick that it likely is.

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