Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Wisconsin still far from the "gold standard" for 2015 jobs

I wanted to go into another part of last week’s Wisconsin jobs report for April 2016, The last page of that release features preliminary figures for the “gold standard” Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages (QCEW). The Walker Administration picked out these parts of that QCEW information.
Wisconsin added 35,565 private-sector jobs from December 2014 to December 2015.

·Construction led industries in year-over-year job gains with a 6.2 percent growth rate.

·Quarterly wages by covered private-sector employers grew by 7.1 percent year over year.
The wage part is noteworthy, as that's a massive jump for the overall wages, and while the average wage increase per worker isn’t as high, it's still a robust 5.6%). Yet at the same time, we're not seeing the same type of 7% increase increase in income tax revenue, which makes me wonder where all the money went (likely to richer people, who are more likely to find ways to avoid paying taxes on those added wages).

The 35,565 private-sector jobs added means an increase of 1.48% in 2015, which improves on the horrid 1.23% we had for the previous quarter’s QCEW report, and it’s even above the 1.45% that was reported in the month-by-month figures that we previously had (Todd Milewski’s chart in the Capital Times has a great rundown of the month-by-month figures).

But that 1.48% was still well below the national level of 2.23% job growth for 2015, and is even below the 1.55% in private sector job growth that we had in 2014. So not really that great in context, and it seems likely the state will trail the rest of the nation in year-over-year job growth for the 18th straight quarter (neatly coinciding with the Age of Fitzwalkerstan) when the nationwide QCEW report is released in a couple of weeks.

For more on the long-term QCEW record, Political Heat’s Chris Walker points out that Wisconsin’s rotten jobs growth in the first 4 years of the Age of Fitzwalkerstan put us so far in the hole, we’d still be trailing much of the country even if we were graded on a severe curve.
However, a funny thing occurred to me when I started thinking about this most recent release: what if we compared these new numbers, and all of the jobs created in Wisconsin from December 2010 to December 2015, to jobs numbers in states ONLY up to 2014? That is, give Wisconsin a golf handicap: compare its five years of jobs growth to the rest of the nation’s four years of jobs growth, but assume that a net zero jobs are created elsewhere in the rest of the nation, and divide EVERYONE’S jobs growth by five years.

The result? Wisconsin STILL would lag behind most of the country under those assumptions. We’d rank 29th overall nationally in our average yearly rate of private sector jobs growth since Walker took office, and we’d rank 7th out of ten states in the Midwest.

Our annual jobs growth rate from December 2010 to December 2015 is 1.45 percent on average. Minnesota’s average during that same time period -- again, assuming that they created ZERO jobs in 2015 -- would be about 1.62 percent on average.

In fact, from 2010 to 2014 Minnesota created 177,713 new private sector jobs. From 2010 to 2015 Wisconsin created 13,000 less jobs. In other words, Minnesota (and 28 other states) outperformed in four years what it took Wisconsin to accomplish in five.

The desperation of the Walker boys is obvious at this point, as the numbers show the state continues to fall short despite corporations getting every type of tax break and wage-suppression measure that they can. It seems likely that more evidence of that failure will come forward on June 8, when the national figures are released and Wisconsin is slated (yet again) to be in the bottom half of the nation on job growth.

And now that the state is out of ammo on that side (we are more likely to be in a budget deficit in early 2017), all they can do is make excuses and cherry-pick numbers for the next 5½ months before the next election. Which means it’s up to us to give the full picture that shows how far behind we are, that we still aren’t catching up, and that the trickle-down and austerity policies in Fitzwalkerstan will never work in improving the Wisconsin economy for most of us outside the inner circle.

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