The first tipoff that something was up happened with this surprise press release from late morning.
Today, Governor Scott Walker announced the following administrative appointments:I hadn't heard former DWD Secretary (and obnoxious Walker cheerleader) Reggie Newson was on his way out. And amazingly, our media has just kind of shrugged this story off- take a look at the Journal-Sentinel or Madison.com sites, and you'll find the story buried down by the bottom of the page (if you can find it at all).
•Ray Allen – Secretary, Department of Workforce Development (DWD)
•Lon Roberts – Secretary, Department of Financial Institutions (DFI)
“Our congratulations to Reggie Newson for his outstanding leadership and commitment to supporting and strengthening Wisconsin’s workforce,” Governor Walker said. “We are grateful for Reggie’s dedication to the great state of Wisconsin and sincerely wish him the best in his future endeavors. Ray and Lon are both exceptional leaders, and we welcome them to their new roles and thank them for their service to the people of Wisconsin.
That raised my antennae to see if the report was bad, and if Newson's "resignation" was related to that, so I waited for the DWD to release the December report around Noon.....And was still waiting at 2....And was still waiting at 4. They released it so late it isn't even in tonight's Wheeler Report (a go-to repository of Wisconsin politics information. Bookmark it if you haven't already), or in the Wispolitics.com website.
Fortunately, I wandered over to the DWD site, and finally got the numbers after 5pm. And yes, there was a reason they dumped this report late in the day. I'll skip over the spin, and give you the key stat.
The estimates show a decline of 5,000 private sector jobs from November 2015 to December 2015, which is within the margin of error for the data series.ANOTHER 5,000 JOBS LOST IN DECEMBER? Sure, November was revised up by 600 private-sector jobs and 400 overall, but that month also had job losses, even with those revisions. It means there was a combined 8,200 private sector jobs lost in the last 2 months of 2015, and 6,000 overall.
And what's scarier is that the state was lucky to only lose that much. Construction "gained" a seasonally-adjusted 2,000 jobs in December, which is a reflection of the record-warm weather leading to fewer seasonal layoffs than normal. Obviously, that boost will go away in January's report, given that the survey month was last week, when a below-zero cold snap was spreading over the state. Take that out, and 7,000 private-sector jobs were lost.
In addition, every single private-sector services area failed to gain jobs last month, with consumer-driven sectors doing the worst. This includes 1,900 jobs lost in the Leisure and Hospitality Sector (bars, restaurants and lodging) abd 4,500 jobs lost in the "Trade" Sector (which includes retail and related store-type positions). These areas were losing jobs at Christmas time, a peak time for those areas of the economy, and it goes along with the paltry 0.1% year-over-year gain in sales taxes for December that the Wisconsin DOR released today. That is a horrible sign going forward, and you have to wonder how many stores in Wisconsin might close as Year-end figures come in.
And to add insult to the injury of Wisconsin job losses, take a look at what happened to the blue state across the St. Croix.
Minnesota employers added 9,100 jobs in December, boosting the state’s job gains for 2015 to over 42,000.Minnesota's 42,000 jobs gained is nearly DOUBLE what Wisconsin added for 2015. And Gov Walker can't even brag about Wisconsin's lower unemployment rate this month, as that went up by 0.1%, from 4.24% to 4.34%. One rare positive in this report is that the Wisconsin labor force finally went back up by 10,500, but even that is still 13,000 below the seasonally-adjusted labor force that existed at the start of 2015. Would anyone in their right mind in Minnesota trade their state's economy and government for ours right now?
The Department of Employment and Economic Development reported Thursday that the state’s unemployment rate fell to a seasonally adjusted 3.5 percent in December from a revised rate of 3.6 percent in November. That’s better than the nationwide unemployment rate in December of 5 percent.
With these preliminary numbers, the Walker jobs gap has ballooned well past 110,000 jobs, with 30,000 of that gap coming in the last year.
So in light of yet another awful Wisconsin jobs report, I'd love to find out just who answers next week's Marquette Law School poll by saying "Yes, things are just fine in Wisconsin." They probably are as clueless and self-absorbed as Del Griffith on a late night in November.