Tuesday, March 17, 2015

New revisions show WIsconsin trailing its neighbors again

We got one of what will be several bits of information on Wisconsin's economy today with the release of the state-by-state jobs numbers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to the typical updates where we get to compare what all the states did for the last month measured (in this case, January 2015), this particular report was big because it included changes and modifications of job data of the last five years.
Effective with this release, nonfarm payroll estimates for states and metropolitan areas have been revised as a result of annual benchmark processing to reflect 2014 employment counts primarily from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) (tables 5 and 6), as well as updated seasonal adjustment factors. Not seasonally adjusted data beginning with April 2013 and seasonally adjusted data beginning with January 2010 were subject to revision. Some seasonally adjusted series may have been revised back to 1990.
This benchmarking was the reason that total job numbers for Wisconsin were revised down by 25,800 private sector jobs and over 30,000 total jobs earlier this month. So now that every other state has gone through this benchmarking process, let's see where Wisconsin stands for Scott Walker's first term.

Private sector Job growth Jan 2011-Jan 2015
Mich +11.17%
U.S. +9.55%
Ind. +8.32%
Ohio +8.20%
Minn +6.98%
Iowa +6.45%
Wis. +5.92%
Ill. +5.50%

So only the FIBs are keeping us out of last place in the Midwest during the Age of Fitzwalkerstan, and it's well behind the national rate (as indicated by the Walker jobs gap of 83,000). What's even more remarkable is that the four-year record is actually an improvement over where we stood after Walker's first 3 years on the job.

Private Sector Job Growth Jan 2011- Jan 2014
Mich +8.04%
U.S. +6.70%
Ind. +5.94%
Ohio +5.76%
Minn +5.72%
Iowa +4.83%
Ill. +4.19%
Wis. +4.16%

In fact, we were dead last in job growth until September, when a spurt of growth has put us ahead of Illinois. Todd Milewski of the Capitol Times has a good chart illustrating this information. The percentages are slightly different than what I have, but it's basically the same info, and it's worth mentioning that the last 4 months measured are the only four months that have not been measured and benchmarked to the "gold standard" QCEW report (I'm not saying, I'm just sayin'...).

At the top of the list, let's remember that Michigan, Indiana and Ohio all had massive job losses and double-digit unemployment during the Manufacturing Meltdown part of the Great Recession, and a lot of their growth in the 2010s can be credited to the comeback in those fields during the Obama Recovery. But that also begs the question- "Why isn't manufacturing-based Wisconsin joining in on that growth?" Yes, Wisconsin didn't get hit as badly as those three states in the late 2000s (unemployment topped out at 9.2% in Wisconsin in January 2010 and was 8.0% when Walker took over in Jan 2011), but it's still not an adequate excuse for why we lag so badly. Minnesota and Iowa didn't have close to the losses we had here, but they still found a way to gain more jobs and have significantly lower unemployment than Wisconsin.

So while the overall story isn't too much different than what we knew previously (we've always been last or next-to-last in the Midwest under Walker), it's still fresh evidence that the state has lagged its neighbors when it comes to job creation, under a Governor that promised the state would be "Open for Business." Maybe a few more national reporters could ask Presidential Candidate Walker why his approach has failed to either balance the budget or lead to prosperity, and see what kind of easily-disproven jibberish Scotty might respond with.


  1. The thing is, the (unbenchmarked) fourth quarter of 2014 is +24,400 private sector jobs. The only time since 1990 that we've had a better 3 month stretch is September - December 1998.

    Given the lack of sudden boom times and the lack of a major new employer entering the labor market, it is inconceivable that this will hold up to next year's benchmarking. But we'll know for sure when the December QCEW figures come out in three months' time (or two, if the DWD's pre-releasing practice continues) whether this is real or a freak statistical glitch. If it's anything like previous Q4's (and UI claims data suggests that it was) then 2014 was in fact a very mundane 30k year rather than the 54,100 jobs bonanza that Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick was touting from the preliminary December data.

    At this point I think it's even money whether Wisconsin actually hit the 50% mark of Walker's 250,000 jobs promise, although the QCEW numbers won't be finalized until September.

    1. You may well be right, Geoff. We saw the same year-end runup in the monthly figures last year, and the QCEW showed that to be BS.

  2. The CES estimates have been so wrong that I barely consider them anymore. Scott Walker once said we should only look at QCEW, but of course he no longer mentions them since they show us in last place. Looking forward to the new QCEW report. Only 27,000 jobs in 12 months is terrible. #TeaPartyFail

    1. Won't have to wait long. It comes out tomorrow morning