Thursday, October 19, 2017

September jobs in Wis bounce back, unemployment rate back to reality

Today featured the release of another monthly Wisconsin jobs report, and you can see the spin coming from Scott Walker’s Department of Workforce Development from the headline of “Number of Private-Sector Jobs in Wisconsin Reaches All-Time High in September.”

File that under “that’s nice, but so fucking what?” The US reached all-time highs for private sector employment for 42 straight months starting in March 2014 (until the Hurricane-caused decline in September).

It’s more telling to me that it had been 5 months since Wisconsin’s previous “all-time high”, because we’d lost 4,300 jobs in the 4 months since April. What’s the better news in this report is that August’s losses were revised down and that September had a nice bounce-back.

Change in private sector jobs, Aug-Sept 2017
Aug revision +2,700
Sept change +5,900

But some of that should be taken with a grain of salt, since September is usually a time of large seasonal layoffs as Summer ends. This year was no exception, as the non-seasonally adjusted number of private sector jobs was down by nearly 33,000, with the only sectors gaining on a raw total being Warehouse jobs and private “Educational/Health Services”.

It is possible that some of these September job increases are just the natural converse of there not being as much seasonal hiring in Summer. But it is noteworthy that manufacturing gained 1,200 seasonally-adjusted jobs and had August revised up by 900, meaning that we’ve seen a sizable year-over-year increase of 12,600 in the last year after a drop in manufacturing jobs of 3,400 in the 12 months before that.

On the other side, overall 12-month private sector job growth remains below the national rate, at 28,800 (+1.14%), and while there was a narrowing of the Walker job gap due to September’s storms, it’s still well over 116,000.

As for the other part of the jobs report
A preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.5 percent in September 2017, up slightly from 3.4 percent in August and below the national unemployment rate of 4.2 percent.
Just as I predicted, that 3.1% figure Walker and the DWD was throwing around 3 and 4 months ago was likely too good to be true, and this is the natural “snapback” into reality. 3.5% still is pretty good, but that’s also a reflection of the state’s declining population growth, and the Capitol regressives don’t seem to be doing much to encourage people to want to come here.

In all, it’s a good “recovery report” in September after a bad last 4 months for Wisconsin payrolls, even if the Walker Administration’s spin of “record number of private sector jobs working” is obnoxious and hilariously cynical.

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