Place of Residence Data: Wisconsin's preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March 2018 maintained its historically low level of 2.9 percent for the second consecutive month and remained 1.2 percent below the national rate of 4.1 percent. Wisconsin also reached a record high for the number of people employed in the state for the third consecutive month. The size of the state's civilian labor force increased to 3,168,500, reaching an all-time high for the second consecutive month. The state's labor force participation rate also increased from February 2018 to March by 0.1 percent to 68.7 percent, while the national rate decreased 0.1 percent to 62.9 percent over the same time period.
• Place of Work Data: Based on preliminary data, Wisconsin gained 8,900 private sector jobs over the month and a significant 27,800 private sector jobs and 13,200 manufacturing jobs over the year. Wisconsin also added 6,800 total non-farm jobs over the month and a significant 29,700 total non-farm jobs over the year. Additionally, the state's previously reported loss of 300 private sector jobs from January 2018 to February 2018 was revised upward to a gain of 3,700 private sector jobs, showing a 2 month increase of 12,600 private sector jobs from January 2018 through March 2018.
And I immediately rolled my eyes and shook my head, because I've had about enough of Scott Walker's DWD reporting great job numbers that clearly will not stand the test of time.
The most obvious point to start with is the manufacturing jobs, which were listed in the report as having gone up by another 2,100 last month. If you believe the Walker DWD, the manufacturing sector has gone gangbusters in Wisconsin since last September, adding more jobs in the last 6 months than we had over the previous 5 1/2 years.
Manufacturing job growth, Wisconsin
March 2012- Sept 2017 +13,200
Sept 2017- March 2018 +13,300
Yeah, I don’t think so. And you know why else I don’t think so? Because as UW’s Menzie Chinn reminded us last month, these great Wisconsin job gains in manufacturing have constantly been revised down by the “gold standard” Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages (QCEW).
Guess when the last gold standard report ran through? Yep, Sept 2017, the month before this “manufacturing job boom” began.
But maybe the Walker folks just suck at adjusting for the cold-weather months at the start of the year. If you look at the DWD press releases that came out at an earlier time and then compare them with what we know the numbers to be today, the numbers are often very different. And consistently the "good news" the Walker DWD crows about turns out not to be so good with further review.
Let’s go back to what the Walker DWD was saying 2 years ago for its March 2016 report.
The state added a statistically significant 13,100 private sector jobs from February 2016 to March 2016 on a preliminary basis, including a significant gain of 4,200 jobs in manufacturing.Now compare that big talk to what the numbers became once they were revised to fit the “gold standard”.
Wisconsin also added a significant 47,500 private-sector and 51,200 total non-farm jobs over the year ending in March 2016, the best year-over-year growth since August 2004 in both categories. Additionally, revised February private-sector job counts swung from a gain of 8,000 to a gain of 10,500 private sector jobs, a difference of 2,500.
Wis job growth
March 2016, all jobs
Walker’s DWD +11,500
Now listed as -900
March 2016, private jobs
Walker’s DWD +13,100
Now listed as 0
March 2015- March 2016, all jobs
Walker’s DWD +51,200
Now listed as +39,700
March 2015- March 2016, private jobs
Walker’s DWD +47,500
Now listed as +40,300
And they were especially off in the first 3 months of 2016 (which I recognized as bullshit at the time).
Wis job growth
Dec 2015-March 2016, all jobs
Walker’s DWD +30,300
Later revision +10,300
Dec 2015- March 2016, private jobs
Walker’s DWD +29,400
Later revision +9,400
In 2017, the DWD’s jobs numbers were also overstated, but were at least in the ballpark of reality (missing by 3,000 overall and 2,200 in the private sector). But the bigger “errors” came with the household survey, which determines the state unemployment rate (and yes, I was skeptical of the "plummeting unemployment rate" at the time).
Household survey, Wisconsin
Dec 2016-March 2017, Labor Force
Walker’s DWD +23,200
Later revision +6,800
Dec 2016- March 2017, Employed
Walker’s DWD +41,800
Later revision +9,400
Those are huge misses, and you’d think a responsible, reality-based administration would adjust their models to figure out how to correct those errors. But this is Walker World we’re talking about, and instead, it seems like they’re learning from past years by inflating numbers in both surveys in 2018.
Dec 2017- March 2018 changes, Wis
All jobs +20,600
Private jobs +19,700
Labor Force +10,200
I’ll eat my hat of that stands up to the “gold standard” in September. But by then you can bet the Walker
The real question I have at this point is “What's bad at DWD? Is it their data, or is it their motives?” Yes, I know that's a strong charge, but using taxpayer dollars to spread propaganda to try to help a flailing, losing Walker campaign would be right in line with the SOP for this crew.