Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Milwaukee's OK, it's rural Wisconsin really feeling the job losses

It seems that the Walker Administration (and their mouthpieces at places like WMC) is trying out a theme of "Milwaukee is screwed up under Tom Barrett and therefore you shouldn't vote for Barrett." This is a silly argument for 2 reasons.

The first is shown in today's BLS report on local area unemployment rates and jobs. Wisconsin's info for metro areas is on Page 21, and when you look at it, it shows that the Milwaukee area (ID'd as Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington Counties) may have lost jobs in the last 12 months, but at a slower rate than the rest of the state did.

Job change, Milwaukee vs. Wisconsin March 2011- March 2012(seasonally unadjusted)
Milwaukee area- -4,300, -0.54%
Rest of Wisc.-25,700, -1.35%

So Milwaukee actually is beating the sad trend that exists in the rest of Fitzwalkerstan, and I could easily argue that those Milwaukee job losses are more the result of Walker over Barrett or the suburbs. Blaming Barrett for the Milwaukee area's losses in the last year would be like blaming Jim Doyle for losing jobs during Bush's Great Recession (oh wait, that is what the WisGOPs try to do...and they're equally full of crap for the Doyle complaints).

And the second reason is because Scott Walker hasn't given a damn about this state's largest city for at least a decade, as Capper runs down in this excellent post. "Transform Wisconsin" is a gimmick is the mark of a desperate man who's now falling behind in the polls because of his failed policies, and is a typical GOP move of screwing up something, and then claiming that you're the only one that can fix the mess you caused. Sorry, I'd rather have people in charge who don't screw it up in the first place.

Those BLS figures also show another trend when it comes to Wisconsin jobs- that rural Wisconsin has been devastated by Walker and the WisGOPs. Rural areas the ones often facing some of the worst public school cutbacks, as they are often the only provider of education around and have much fewer resources to spread the cuts over, and they are the ones who are especially devastated when local plants shut down (like the Schield plant and its 556 jobs in Mosinee or the recently-closed Wausau paper plant in Brokaw) , as that could be the main employer in the town with nothing else to replace it. When you break down the job numbers in Wisconsin, you can see the devastation outside of Wisconsin's urban areas, as well as Walker's targeted attack on state employees in Madison.

Job change, March 2011-March 2012
Milwaukee area -4,300, -0.54%
Madison area -4,600, -1.34%
Other state urban +3,600, +0.44%
Rural areas -24,700 -3.35%

That's right, rural Wisconsin is over 80% of the state's 30,000 unadjusted job loss over the last 12 months, and 1 out of every 30 jobs that existed a year ago are now gone from these areas. So while lots of places in Wisconsin are hurting, none are hurting more than the small towns and villages that help make this state the special place we know it to be.

Here's the question. Many rural areas of Wisconsin switched strongly to Walker and the GOP in the 2010 elections after going for Obama in 2008. Now that they've seen the effects of Walker's policies hit them as hard as any part of the state over the last 16 months, are they going to stick with Walker on June 5? I wouldn't bet on it.

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