Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Walker Admin rosy job claims from January aren't so good in March

Wanted to give a little extra context to yesterday’s major revisions to Wisconsin jobs numbers. These changes are often buried due to a torrent of Walker Administration spin that pre-empts those refinements. And few examples show this better than some recent spin Walker’s Department of Workforce Development put out as a year-end summary, and how they won’t correct that now-incorrect information.

Here’s the piece of Walker campaign lit press release from 7 weeks ago, and it has not aged well. I will add the revised reality in italics, and will generally use the January 2018 state-by-state figures from yesterday. It’s a barely different time frame, but the basic point will be the same.
Wisconsin ranked 13th highest nationally in year-over-year in number of private sector jobs added.
In January 2018, Wisconsin has 12-month private sector job growth of 23,300, which ranks it 24th for private sector jobs added. That’s well below 13th, and looks even worse when you consider Wisconsin is 20th among US states for population.

Wisconsin's year over year growth of 11,500 manufacturing jobs ranked 4th nationally and 2nd in the Midwest
In January 2018, that 12-month increase is down to 9,000. And that includes an alleged addition of 3,000 manufacturing jobs in the last 2 months that hasn’t been subjected to the gold standard. Take a look at this chart, and can you guess which months haven’t been benchmarked yet?

Wisconsin's unemployment rate of 3 percent ranks 8th lowest nationally
Now 3.1%, and tied for 10th. Still good, but not as good as the Walker Admin portrayed it as at the time.

The year-over-year and month-over-month change in Wisconsin's unemployment rate both rank 5th best nationally
Far from it now, the year-over-year drop of 0.4 percent in the last 12 months isn’t even statistically significant, and 20th in the nation. Some of that is a good thing, because unemployment in Wisconsin was a lower-than-reported 3.5% at the end of 2016, but it also shows that we need population growth among working-age population, and that’s not happening in Fitzwalkerstan.

Wisconsin's labor force participation rate of 68.9 percent ranks 5th highest nationally
Even the DWD’s own propaganda yesterday mentioned that the corrected rate isn’t 68.9%, but 68.5%, mostly due to a lack of year-over-year growth in the labor force (20,600, instead of the 56,000 the DWD was reporting last month). The participation rate is still good…because Wisconsin has scored well on this measure for years.

Wisconsin's unemployment rate of 3 percent is significantly lower than the national rate of 4.1 percent, as defined by BLS
It’s 3.1 percent now, but the main point holds up.

Wisconsin's addition of 40,200 total non-farm jobs from December 2016 to December 2017 was statistically significant, as defined by BLS.
As I mentioned yesterday, that figure was revised down to 19,000 when compared to the gold standard. And that’s not close to statistically significant.
So when you see these differences, here’s my question. Will any enterprising media in this state ask the Walker Administration why it constantly overestimates job growth, and won't be cautious about trusting numbers that have been consistently revised down in recent years?

Hey, maybe it’s an honest mistake and that new 2018 revisions to seasonality will get the state’s monthly figures in line with reality. But the original numbers released by DWD sure goes along with the narrative the Walker 2018 campaign would want to promote, and the constant downward revisions are almost never given the attention that the initial headlines do- which means the average everyday voter never gets to find out what’s really happening.

In other words, the jobs and economic information would be flowing and spinning just the way the Walker campaign would want it, and hiding the bad news from those who will go to the polls in November.

So c’mon Wisconsin media, DO BETTER! We’re watching you to see if you’re doing your job watching the people in power.

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