Monday, August 18, 2014

Wisconsin jobs record still bad- no matter how they try to spin it

Well, we had more monthly jobs reports come out in recent days, first from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development on Thursday, and then the state-by-state report from BLS this morning. And naturally what follows is me having to shoot down another lame attempt by DWD to say “it’s working” for Governor Scott Walker.
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Reggie Newson today released the following statement on the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) monthly rankings of employment and unemployment estimates. The report noted Wisconsin’s year-over-year unemployment rate declined from 6.8 to 5.8 percent, a full percentage point.
This doesn’t mean much. The national unemployment rate has fallen from 7.3% to 6.2% in the same time period, and Wisconsin’s 0.4% “advantage” over the U.S. is far smaller than the 1.4% advantage we had when Scott Walker took office in January 2011
In addition, the data show Wisconsin year over year gains of 36,100 private sector jobs ranked 20th highest nationally in number of jobs gained. Wisconsin ranked higher in manufacturing job growth, 5th nationally in year over year growth and growth since December 2010 in production jobs, which on average pay $10,000 more annually than all Wisconsin jobs.
Sounds good, but means nothing. Wisconsin is 20th in U.S. population, so being 20th in jobs is where they should be. And as I’ve analogized in the past, taking credit for Wisconsin manufacturing growth in an expansion is like us bragging about consuming more brandy than other states- Wisconsin is Number 2 in the nation for proportion of jobs in manufacturing, so naturally they’ll be doing well in this stat in a time period when 178,000 manufacturing jobs have been added in the U.S. over the last 12 months. The real subtext to this statement is “THANKS OBAMA!”
Highlights of today's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report of state-by-state employment and unemployment estimates include:
· Wisconsin's unemployment rate declined a full percentage point between July 2013 and July 2014, from 6.8 percent to 5.8 percent, and below the national rate of 6.2 percent and below other leading manufacturing states of Indiana and Michigan.
Not mentioned, Wisconsin has had equal or lower unemployment than both Michigan and Indiana in every month since 2007, and Indiana’s unemployment rate has dropped by 1.7%, and Michigan’s by 1.3% in the last 12 months, both larger decreases than Wisconsin.
· Wisconsin has a statistically significant private-sector job (Current Employment Statistics) increase between July 2013 and June 2014 at 36,100, which ranked 20rd nationally, improving on its 23rd place ranking in the previous BLS report.
As mentioned before - "Whoop-de-fuckin-do!"
· Wisconsin had a statistically significant total nonfarm job (CES) increase between July 2013 and July 2014 at 45,000, which ranked 17th nationally in net change.
This is a good number, except that you look at the release of the “gold standard” Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages, and see that the monthly survey overestimated job growth by more than 10,000 jobs in the second half of 2013 vs. the QCEW,which means this 45,000 number should also be deflated down toward 35,000.

Lastly, all the spinning press releases in the world doesn’t change the fact that 3,200 private sector jobs added in Wisconsin is still below the national rate of growth for July (we needed 4,300 jobs just to keep up). Combine that with the downward revision of 2,600 total jobs in June, (700 in the private sector), and the Walker jobs gap keeps getting bigger, now up past 67,700 private-sector jobs, and nearly 60,000 jobs overall.

Hey, I get why the Walker folks are desperate to use taxpayer resources to spin their horrible record via the DWD- if I was a well-known incumbent that couldn’t break above 48% in any legitimate poll with 11 weeks to go, I’d be freaked out, too. Especially when the Burke campaign is putting those subpar stats in hard-hitting, straight-talk ads like this on the air.

I can't see Walker's argument of "Wisconsin's comeback story" meme working outside the right-wing bubble, in no small part because even the meager amount of jobs that have come back are paying approximately 25% less than the jobs that were lost in the Great Recession. Combine that with the division and coming massive budget deficits, and there is no way you can say that "it's working" in Wisconsin.


  1. Jake, I daresay you're underestimating the jobs gap by focusing on CES figures.

    US Dec '10 - Dec '13 private sector job growth was from 107,644,196 to 114,706,100, and from Dec '13 to Jul '14 was a seasonally-adjusted from 115,541,000 to 117,082,000. Overall a gain of 8,602,904 or 7.93% from the seasonally-adjusted CES figure for Dec '10.

    From Wisconsin's starting point of 2,325,300 at the same time that should mean that we should expect to have added 184,402 jobs by Jul '14.

    Since our QCEW + CES value is 102,813, we are 81,589 short of the national pace, on course to break 90,000 by the time Walker's term is up.

    Looking at past 5-month performances under the Walker administration, our chances of reaching the halfway mark of his 250,000 jobs promise by the end of the year is roughly 5%.

    Given that Wisconsin was always projected to recover jobs at a rate very close to the nation's before Walker took office, the question that has to be asked of him is: what policies do you imagine could possibly have given worse results than yours, Governor?

  2. Geoff- yeah, it looks even worse when you put it that way. :P

    I'm just using the monthly numbers to keep it consistent month-to-month, which is basically 184,000 (national rate) vs 117,000 (Wisconsin actuals).

    As you point out, the real question is if we even get halfway to 250K by Election Day. There are only 2 jobs reports left between now and then.

    No matter how you slice it- total fail

  3. Given the PolitiFact QCEW+CES hybrid model, we need another 22,187 private sector jobs in the next two releases in order to reach a 125,000 figure prior to the election. Going back to 1990, of the 293 2-month stretches available it has happened precisely once, in March - May of 1992 when 24,500 private sector jobs were gained. The best 2-month stretch since Walker took office was from February - April of this year with 16,100.

    So even if we're generous and include the 90s, Walker's chances of seeing PF say 125k before the election is about a third of one percent.

    Going by CES alone from January 2011, there are another 9,900 jobs to go to avoid an utter PR rout. This has happened 61 times out of 293 since 1990, putting Walker's odds at about 20%. In the 41 2-month stretches since he took office, it has happened 8 times. So also about 20%.

    Burke should be commissioning the advert already.