Saturday, July 14, 2012

While U.S. gets better, Wisconsin unemployment claims are up

It didn't get a lot of notice by our main newspapers this week, but the Milwaukee Business Times had an alarming little blurb come out late Wednesday.
The number of people filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits in Wisconsin last week spiked nearly 47 percent from the prior week, according to the latest estimate released today by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance grew to 14,558 in the state last week, up from 9,926 in the previous week and 13,547 in the same week a year ago.
Last week’s total for claims was the highest in Wisconsin since 15,045 filed for claims in the week of Jan. 28.
An economist at the Department of Workforce Development declined to comment on the new data.
Interesting how they clam up when the news sucks, eh?

What's worse about this report is that the rest of the country didn't have a similar spike. Yes, non-seasonally adjusted claims (which the states report) were up 19%, but that sure isn't 47% like Wisconsin, and because of fewer early July shutdowns in the auto industry and related reasons, seasonally-adjusted U.S. claims fell to 350,000, the lowest since Obama took office in 2009.

Now I'm not foolish enough to think a one-week change in claims during a week where the 4th of July fell in the middle is a game-changer, and I certainly think we should check back in a week or two to see if this was a one-week blip or the sign that things continue to improve nationwide (or slide in Wisconsin). But I certainly think we can start to look at the words of one Scott Walker, now that we have 5 weeks of data since the recall ended. Remember that in one of Walker's many recent speeches to out-of-state right-wing organizations Scotty claimed the the recall election was keeping employers from hiring, and that things would pick up after June 5 if he was kept in office.
During a jobs summit at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters near the White House, Walker said the recall results provided the certainty and stability that employers wanted before adding jobs. “June was a big month in terms of settling uncertainty,” Walker said, which along with lowering taxes and regulations he said were key for creating jobs.

“Last Tuesday, June 5, without a doubt gave people a clear answer to what was going to happen in Wisconsin,” Walker said, referring to the day he won a historic recall election over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Walker said before that election, that 87 percent of Wisconsin employers in a poll said they would add jobs in 2012, but were holding off because of the recall.
Of course, that "poll" was by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, who dumped millions into trying to retain Walker, so of course they'd claim that. It's a classic Walker lie by omission move.

Well, let's see the unemployment claim numbers for Wisconsin vs. the rest of the country, and see how we're shaping up.

Wisconsin vs. U.S. unemployment claims, year-over-year

As shown before, a number above 0 means that Wisconsin is doing worse than the U.S. when it comes to dropping unemployment claims, and unlike the huge advantages we had in 2009-2010 under the Doyle/ Dem budget, the unemployment trend is going up this year, and has accelerated since the recall happened. We'll see if the media wises up and starts to call out the Walker Administration for their "recall uncertainty" claims...and you can bet if that somehow does happen that the Walker folks will give some BS about Obamacare being upheld (which actually reduces uncertainty, since any business person worth a fuck should know what the law is and what it'll do).

And as mentioned before, given the big seasonal jobs deflator that hits Wisconsin in June and the fact that we continue to lag the U.S., I wouldn't expect much positive from the state jobs report that's due out this Thursday. We'll also see if we've had a large number of entrants into the work force, which would mirror the nearly 2.5 million people nationwide that have jumped into the work force nationwide the last 2 months (the real reason the U.S. unemployment rate has gone up from 8.1% to 8.2% since April).

If more people started looking for work in Wisconsin because Scotty said there'd be hiring after the recalls ended, don't be shocked to see 7.0% unemployment or higher come back to Wisconsin for the next few months, and for Walker's DWD to have some other lame excuse for why his policies have kept Wisconsin's economy behind the rest of the country for the last 18 months.

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