Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Something's cooking, and it might be the June jobs numbers

About a week after the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development releases the monthly jobs numbers (which I dissected in this post), it comes out with a second report that breaks down job changes by metro areas, jobs, and counties. And it was even more remarkably odd than I thought it would be.

If you look at today's local jobs report, and especially if you get by the absurd spin on the front page, you'll notice an interesting group of numbers under "MSA Employment" on Page 2. What you'll see is that Wisconsin's 12 metro areas LOST a total of 3,300 jobs on a seasonally-adjusted basis in June (including 1,700 in the Green Bay metro area, which were not Packer-lockout related) , while the rest of the state allegedly ADDED 12,800. Now, we already figured that most of the jobs listed as gained in the June jobs report were in the low-wage, low-benefit tourist season, but now they're apparently all in the sticks at Summer Camps and other rural places. Even on the non-seasonally-adjusted basis (which went up in most places like it always does in Wisconsin in the Summer), nearly 3/4ths of all added jobs were OUTSIDE of a metro area, despite nearly 3/4ths of all TOTAL jobs in Wisconsin being INSIDE a metro area

Now, if you're skeptical about this like I am, there's 2 reasons that seem plausible for the overcounting. 1. There wasn't enough of a "seasonal adjustment" made by the DWD folks to reflect those sorts of jobs in tourism and related gigs, and that disproportionately fell onto the small towns where these jobs are. 2. Some folks in the "rural" areas gave some information that would look good in the statewide reports. Somehow, I don't think Spooner, Wisconsin has become the new hot spot to find work in this state.

And the second reason I don't believe these rural numbers is that the county unemployment numbers didn't change that much in rural areas. The state's unadjusted numbers were listed at 8.1%, up 0.7% from May as school let out and migrants came in, but Northwoods counties such as Oneida, Florence, Lincoln, Marinette, Ashland, and Rusk counties also saw their unadjusted unemployment numbers go up. So unless those places gained a ton more people for June, they didn't add anything jobwise.

There are some pockets of lower unemployment figures in ultra-touristy places like Vilas and Door Counties, but those places still had unemployment rates more than 1% above the state average, and even the Dells counties (Sauk, Columbia and Adams) all went up in June. In fact, the only other big movers on the list are all college-town counties (Portage, Eau Claire, Dunn, Etc.), and a couple of random stragglers on the way up. So I don't see where all these new jobs were getting created in rural Wisconsin, unless they massively underestimated the increase in the work force that happens every June. Maybe the "Dells immigrant experience" plan for Summer hiring is really more pervaisve than we know....

The bottom line is that thise new report verifies that either last week's employer-reported payroll report was a blatant lie, there are some serious discrepancies in what this administration thinks is normal "Summer hiring", or there's going to be a massive drop-off once we get to September.

Next big report to see if this trend matches up- the state's June 2011 revenue report. Compare it to last year's gains for June, and see if we have any major changes. If not, then it's even more fishy.

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