Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Walker "comeback" spin leaves out one thing...today's reality

Think Gov Walker isn't feeling the heat from all of the layoff announcements, scandals and Capitol incompetence that keeps coming out of this state? His handlers He came up with this desperate column over the weekend called "The Wisconsin Comeback" where he tried to convince an increasingly skeptical public that Wisconsin is really going in the right direction (and the comments with the column indicate people aren't buying it). The article included Walker taking credit for things Wisconsin already excelled in before he took office, such as ACT test scores and health care quality, and also included a few claims about job growth.
A recent revised report from the federal government shows that the unemployment rate in Wisconsin is the lowest it has been since the spring of 2001. The 16,600 new jobs created in the month of October is the best monthly jobs gain since April of 1992 and the best October since at least 1990. And the 45,100 new private sector jobs added October over October is statistically significant.

In addition, Wisconsin has one of the highest labor participation rates in the country. At 67.8%, our state is more than five points higher than the nation. More people are working in Wisconsin in 2015 than at just about any time in the past.
A couple of points to make before I go deeper into the numbers. 1. The high labor participation rate is something Wisconsin has had for years, and has actually gone down since the start of this year, as this recent in-depth article from Bruce Thompson in Urban Milwaukee shows. 2. The "recent revised (sic) report from the federal government" is the state-by-state jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and those figures that were just released dealt with November, not October.

So why didn't Scotty talk about the November jobs numbers? This is why.

Change in jobs, Midwest November 2015
Iowa +9,000
Ohio +7,000
Minn +6,200
Mich +3,500
Ind. +3,400
Ill. +300
Wis. -3,800

That stat also helps explain why Walker quotes the October year-over-year figures on job growth, because the 12-month growth in November nearly 13,000 jobs less than October's number, at 32,400. And Wisconsin doesn’t measure up so well compared to our Midwestern neighbors when you use that stat, as only the ongoing fiscal and governmental train wreck in Illinois is keeping us out of the cellar for this part of the country.

Year-over-year private sector job growth, Nov 2014-Nov 2015
Mich +2.20%
Iowa +2.17%
Ind. +2.09%
Ohio +1.54%
Minn +1.47%
Wis. +1.32%
Ill. +0.76%

And while the Walker Administration tries to prop up the 4.2% unemployment rate as a sign of success, it's another context-free cherry pick job because 1. The U.S. is at its lowest unemployment rate in over 7 1/2 years, and 2. Wisconsin's low rate is as much a reflection of fewer people looking for work as it is any sign of growth (as noted in the participation rate dropping). What's worth looking into in the monthly household survey that includes the unemployment rate is also the number of people in that survey that say they are working. And interestingly, Gov Walker isn't talking about these specific numbers very much.

Change in “employed”, household survey Nov 2014-Nov 2015
Ind. +2.50% (+76,400)
Mich +1.83% (+81,100)
Minn +1.18% (+33,700)
Ill. +0.98% (+59,900)
Wis. +0.57% (+16,700)
Ohio +0.45% (+24,200)
Iowa +0.40% (+6,500)

Much of Wisconsin's drop in unemployment over the last 12 months is due to over 14,000 people leaving the work force in the last year, and had Wisconsin’s labor force had remained the same in the last 12 months, the unemployment rate would be 4.7% instead of 4.2%. This means workforce dropouts account for about half of Wisconsin's 1.0% drop in that time frame, but interestingly, Walker doesn't want to take credit for that part of the reality.

Look, I get that when your approval rating is in the 30s and falling, you gotta try to give people a shot of the confidence fairy to have them try to come back to you before they leave you for good, and that's why Walker wrote that silly column over the weekend and why he is doing so many (taxpayer-funded) photo ops at businesses these days. But it merely takes 30 minutes of research to shoot his story full of holes, and after nearly 5 years in office in Madison and over 12 as an exec, you'd think Scotty might be a little better at this game. Sorry kid, but I don't think it's working, and just like what happened in Milwaukee County, the majority are finally seeing through your act, and the jig is up.

Too bad for Scotty that he doesn't have any new job to jump to this time...outside of maybe an orange jumpsuit. It's just horrible that this state has had to be dragged down along with him, and that this guy wasn't left behind 13 months ago.


  1. Hopefully more will read the numbers and understand them, this state is going nowhere but down the toilet with its deadwood brained governer.

  2. Hey Jake, awesome as usual. I'll leave this here for you as an example of official spin on the numbers. http://www.thewheelerreport.com/wheeler_docs/files/2015InReview.pdf