Note where Wisconsin’s job growth peaked- March of 2011. Guess what also happened in March 2011? Act 10 was rammed through the Legislature. We’ve generally declined ever since, even while U.S. private sector job growth picked up- reaching 2.12% in 2013.
On a related note, the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) released their State of Working Wisconsin report for 2014 over the weekend. COWS showed that Wisconsin still has yet to gain back all of the jobs lost since the start of the Great Recession at the end of 2007, and is even further behind when you realize that demographics should have taken that number much higher.
In December 2007, Wisconsin had some 2.88 million jobs. In July 2014, with 2.86 million jobs, Wisconsin had finally inched nearly back to that level. Wisconsin is still 21,900 jobs behind….COWS points out that the state stayed afloat better than some of its Midwestern neighbors at the start of the Recession, and our job losses weren’t really all that different from what was seen in the rest of the nation. But since the Age of Fitzwalkerstan began in 2011, the state has badly lagged the job gains that much of the rest of the country has been receiving.
But just getting back to 2007 is actually falling behind given population growth. The state population has grown 3.8 percent since the recession began. To absorb the growing population of working age adults, and restore the level of opportunity and employment of December 2007, Wisconsin would need to have added 108,515 jobs. This leaves the state jobs deficit at 130,415 –jobs needed to get back to 2007 (21,900) plus jobs needed to accommodate population growth (108,515). The jobs deficit of over 130,000 ensures that jobs will continue to be a central concern for workers across the state.
Employment fell when the Great Recession began in December 2007, with sharp decline evident after September 2008. States in the Industrial Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio) were particularly hard hit. Wisconsin at first did a bit better than the rest of these states and the nation generally but only just barely. Starting in 2011, Wisconsin began slipping behind national rates of growth.This is their version of the Walker jobs gap, using all jobs as the metric. COWS notes that Wisconsin is outperforming the nation in jobs growth and/or retention two sectors- manufacturing (not surprising, as manufacturing jobs are being gained back in America in general, and the state is 2nd in percentage of jobs in manufacturing), and GOVERNMENT. In fact, Wisconsin is nearly 4,000 public-sector jobs ahead of the national rate in the Age of Fitzwalkerstan, despite a decrease of 2,700 jobs in the state. This is a testament to how much austerity has been put in place by the nation as a whole, and the fact that there was already cuts in government jobs happening before then, as that same survey shows 2,300 government jobs were reduced in the last 24 months of the Doyle Administration.
From January 2011 to June 2014, Wisconsin gained 109,200 jobs, posting growth in the labor market of 4.0 percent. Over that same period, the national economy grew by 6.2 percent. If Wisconsin had simply kept pace with national growth, we would have added 167,622 jobs. That difference – 58,422 missing jobs in Wisconsin – suggests that over the last four years, every time Wisconsin added two jobs, the national economy added three.
Remember, Scott Walker was elected in 2010 in no small part because he promised to make Wisconsin “Open for Business”, and unknowing voters thought this guy was the best choice to close the Wisconsin jobs gap that had exploded because of the Great Recession. Instead, these two reports from last week reiterate that this state has fallen further behind as Walker has instituted those policies. And as we also found out last week, these policies haven’t balanced our budget, since an estimated $1.3 billion in General Fund deficits loom over the next 3 years, and another $1.1 billion in planned projects that hasn’t been paid for in the Transportation Fund.
When these well-below par jobs and deficit numbers, how can 54% of Wisconsinites polled last month by Marquette University think the state is going in the right direction? And how can 51% of them think the Walker years have left the state in a better position? Put down your Badger State pom-poms and see that we deserve a lot better!