Sunday, August 9, 2015

No Scotty, Wisconsin wasn't "messed up" then. But it may be now

I've been celebrating some actual makers this weekend in Madison, as the annual Great Taste of the Midwest took over our town this weekend. But I did happen to notice this comment come out of the mouths of our fair Guv.

Wisconsin was "messed up" when Scott Walker took over in January 2011? That's not what the data says, which makes it obvious that the U.S. has performed much better than Wisconsin since the Age of Fitzwalkerstan began. In addition, the 2015 Wisconsin has less room for improvement because of low population and workforce growth, and backwards Walker policies that will not attract talent and jobs to a state that previously had a positive, progressive reputation.

Let's take on Walker's first claim of the state being "messed up." In fact, Wisconsin was performing comparably well as the country was dragging itself out of the Great Recession during 2010. 4 years later, Wisconsin had barely changed in its rate of job growth, while much of the rest of the nation zoomed by us, buoyed by the Obama Recovery.

12-month private sector job growth, QCEW
Dec 2010 +1.50%, 11th in U.S., 3rd in Midwest
Dec 2014 +1.51%, 38th in U.S, 6th in Midwest

And when Walker took office in January 2011, Wisconsin's unemployment rate was going down almost twice as fast as the U.S. rate. Since taking office, the rest of the country has lowered unemployment more than we have, further illustrating that it's the Obama Recovery that has improved things in the state during the Age of Fitzwalkerstan.

Unemployment rate, Jan 2011 vs June 2015
U.S. Jan 2011 9.2%, -0.6% last 12 months
Wis. Jan 2011 8.1%, -1.1% last 12 months

U.S. June 2015 5.3% -3.9% vs Jan 2011
Wis. June 2015 4.6% -3.5% vs Jan 2011

And even with Wisconsin's drop in unemployment being less than the U.S. under Scott Walker, even that understates the lagging that Wisconsin has had in getting back on the job, because the rest of the country is adding potential workers 12 times faster than Wisconsin has.

Change in labor force, Jan 2011 - June 2015
U.S. +2.43%
Wis. +0.20%

In fact, I could make an argument that if Wisconsin's labor force had expanded at the same rate as the rest of the country, and the number of "employed" stayed the same, our unemployment would be 6.7%. Of course, if we had another 70,000 people in the work force, there'd be somewhat more demand, so it's not a great comparison, but you get the idea.

Bottom line is that the "low 4.6% unemployment rate" that Scott Walker tries to sell out-of-state on the campaign trail is more a reflection of very low population growth and the Obama Recovery than anything Scott Walker has done. Add in the regressive cuts to education and wages that have happened in the first 6 months of 2015, along with the regressive social policies, and can you tell me how this state will attract any talent to improve our lagging record under Scott Walker and the failed policies of the Wisconsin GOP?

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