Monday, March 26, 2012

Debunking the Walker "turnaround theme"- Unemployment claims

Greetings from cloudy and cooler La Crosse. Sometimes posts just fall into your lap, and today was a good example of that. As soon as I saw this Scott Walker press release in the Wheeler Report, I knew I had an easy "debunk the spin" post coming.

In Part 1 of what promises to be a pathetic series of attempts to bullshit Wisconsinites into thinking that our economy is "turning around" due to Walker policies (while conveniently leaving out that Walker policies tanked a growing Wisconsin economy in 2011), our fair Governor tries to grab the credit for the state's reduced unemployment claims.
After the first full 11 weeks of 2012, the average new claim total declined by almost one-fourth when compared to the first full 11 weeks in 2010. The average total of new Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims through the first 11 weeks of this year are one more indicator that Wisconsin’s economy is headed in the right direction.

“Helping Wisconsinites get back to work and getting them off of the unemployment rolls is good for everyone in our state,” Governor Walker said. “While I am encouraged by this good indicator that Wisconsin’s economy is turning around, we still have a lot of work to do.”

During the first 11 weeks of 2012, the average number of new UI claims has dropped by 23 percent percent when compared to the first full 11-week period in 2010, and by 12 percent when compared to the first full 11 weeks in calendar year 2011. Wisconsin has seen dramatic decreases in average weekly totals for initial claims, which haven’t been lower for the 11th full week of a calendar year since 2005. In addition, continued claims have declined by 29 percent through the first full 11 weeks of 2012 compared to the first full 11 weeks of 2010.
Well, of course Walker brings up the decrease in Wisconsin from 2010, but passes over the drops that happened during 2010, under Jim Doyle and Legislative Dem policies. And it proves to be a typical Walker lie by omission, because after January the year-over-year decrease in weekly unemployment claims was never below 17 percent for any week in the rest of 2010. It takes some serious brass balls to try to take credit for drops in UE claims that happened before you ever took office!

The second part is also intentionally misleading, because it misses the context that the rest of the country is seeing unemployment claims at their lowest levels in more than 4 years. Wisconsin SHOULD be seeing drops in unemployment as the Obama Recovery continues to pick up steam. Explain to me how that proves it has anything to do with Scott Walker and GOP policies? The obvious answer is that it doesn't, but that doesn't stop Scotty the Grifter from trying to say it does.

In fact, let's compare Wisconsin's year-over-year increase in claims for both the Doyle and Walker years, and see who measures up better. The timing is fortuitous, because we've had exactly 52 weeks of unemployment claim data to check since Act 10 was passed in March 2011, so compare Wisconsin's results with the U.S. in the previous year before Act 10, and then match it with the record vs. the rest of America after Act 10.

Wisconsin vs. U.S. change in jobless claims

As you can see, Wisconsin was consistently seeing drops in jobless claims 10-15% below the national average in the year before Act 10 under policies passed by Jim Doyle and the Dems, and showed little to no difference from the U.S. for much of the year after Act 10 - we lost our advantage under Walker's policies. In fact, the only time you see the streams cross is in the last few weeks, which are the only weeks that don't have Doyle vs. Walker, but Walker vs. Walker! In other words, the only reason it looks like "improvement" is because Wisconsin was coming off Walker's higher-than-they-should-be claims numbers in 2011, which means he deserves no credit for minor improvements over what he already screwed up.

Given the "part 1" reference, you can bet there will be more of these releases filled with statistics that lack context and lie by intentionally leaving key bits of information out. But I'll wager good money that I'll be spending a few posts this week debunking the "Walker turnaround" meme. And you can also bet that a lot of the "turnaround" should be credited to Jim Doyle and Barack Obama - just like the drop in unemployment claims over the last 2 years.

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