Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mediocre May continued Wisconsin job stagnation...and bad spin

Today featured the release of the Wisconsin May jobs numbers, and they were tepid at best. How do we know they aren't good? Because of the hilarious burial of the lead and associated spin job Reggie Newson and company put together at DWD.
MADISON – The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) today released the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revised estimates for April and preliminary estimates for May, covering unemployment and employment statistics for the state of Wisconsin. In brief, the estimates showed:

 Place of work data: Upward revisions to seasonally adjusted total nonfarm and private-sector job numbers in April by 1,700 and 1,900, respectively.

 Place of residence data: A preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 6.8 percent in May. In addition, there was an increase in the state’s labor force participation rate, which shows a greater share of Wisconsin’s population is in the labor force either working or actively seeking employment.
That's their f***ing lead! They don't even tell you that the 6.8% is an increase from last month's 6.7% (not a big deal, it's the same as the U.S., and like the U.S., it's because of increased job-seekers), or that jobs went up by 2,600 total and 900 in the private sector, which are the biggest items people care about on that stat.

So when you put these numbers into the charts, and you'll see that there was actually a reduction in the Walker jobs gap for all jobs in the U.S., mostly due to the U.S.'s weak growth in May (golf clap!). The bad news for Walker is that it only cut the gap by about 1,100, it was only the 3rd time the state outperformed the U.S. in the 14 months since Act 10 was passed (that's a .214 average, for you scoring at home), and the gap still sits at 62,200.

The private sector didn't do as well in Wisconsin fotr May, however. 900 jobs is far from sufficient, and that caused the private sector jobs gap to go up in May. In fact, the private sector Walker jobs gap is now larger than the overall jobs gap, at nearly 63,000.

The private sector jobs picture includes a distressing decline in Construction employment of 3,300. Construction employment statewide has now dropped 9,200 since February (or 10%) despite record heat for the state in the same time period. Not a good sign at all. The warm weather also may have held down usual Summer hiring in the Leisure and Hospitality industries, as those industries had their hiring pushed forward into March and April, meaning their 10,600 non-seasonal gain in May comes in as a seasonally-adjusted 2,200-job loss.

That's all in the jobs report, but I also note what's missing this month from their charts- the year-over-year comparisons. Guess they didn't want to talk about that, so I will give it to you here.

Change in jobs, Wisconsin, May 2011-May 2012
Total jobs -15,200
Private sector -9,500

We'll see tomorrow if that keeps Wisconsin at its "Number 1 for job loss" status. However, the Walker folks will counter with their own little Census numbers (you know, the ones they conveniently cooked up 3 weeks before the election?) and they'll try to tell you things aren't that bad because they have these (mediocre) numbers. Not surprisingly, the DWD does include those stats in the jobs report. Of course, Badger Democracy's Scott Wittkopf revealed 2 weeks ago the numbers still haven't been verified by the BLS, and they won't be for another 2 weeks, but our vaunted media consistently forgets to mention that part of the equation.

What's interesting about the Employer Census report is that out of the alleged increase of 23,608 in jobs, over 7,000 are in the "unclassified" sector. Now you'd think that would statistical noise, except that the number of "unclassified" jobs increases from 3,649 to 10,651 in 12 months, or nearly triple the amount there were in 2010. Makes you wonder what the hell those jobs were, don't it? Were they counting Koch posters to websites to show Walker's "grassroots" support? I'll be very interested to see what happens when the BLS gives its report on these numbers, and be able to compare them to other states in the Midwest.

But given that the verification is 2 weeks away, I'll go with today's DWD report as evidence instead. The numbers still suck, and given that Wisconsin unemployment claims continue to stay at a high level (they were actually up for the week of May 28, despite the fact that Memorial Day meant only 4 days of work to miss and file claims), I don't see that reversing any time soon.

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