Tuesday, September 15, 2015

National media beats Wisconsin media, this time on Wisconsin jobs

The Washington Post has been using its Politi-fact space to look into claims by various presidential candidates. Today they turned their gaze to our fair Guv, and a topic we've discussed numerous times on this blog- Wisconsin's job creation in the Age of Fitzwalkerstan. They look into Gov Walker's claims about 140,000 new jobs in Wisconsin and unemployment and labor participation rates being over the national average, and let's see what they have to say.
Walker says Wisconsin’s rates {of participation and unemployment] are “far higher” and “far lower” than the national average. The state’s unemployment rate is 0.7 percent lower than the national rate, and its labor force participation rate is 4.8 percentage points higher than the national rate. The numbers are not as dramatic as he makes them sound.
The Post also notes something I've pointed out a few times in recent months, that Wisconsin's labor force participation rate has plummeted, going from 68.6% to 67.4% since January, allowing the state's unemployment rate to stay artificially low. In addition, the Post mentions that Walker deserves little to no credit for the seemingly positive stats that he tries to sell on the campaign trail.
BLS officials warn against comparing state averages to national averages. For one, state averages are seasonally adjusted individually on the state level, so the numbers do not add up to the national level. Each region may have unique factors that affect employment and labor force participation trends. Wisconsin was among the lowest-ranking Midwestern states in its percentage growth of private sector jobs in 2014.

Wisconsin traditionally has had a lower unemployment rate than national average, and a comparable or higher labor participation rate than the national average. Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was higher than the national average even before Walker became governor. And the Wisconsin unemployment rate consistently has been lower than the national average since 1985. So while Walker touts the figures as a success, it is not a trend out of the ordinary or unique to his term.
This is something UW professor Menzie Chinn has pointed out numerous times on the Econbrowser blog. Dr. Chinn brings this up again in his post today on that site, and notes that Wisconsin "advantage" of lower unemployment vs the rest of the U.S. has generally shrunk during the Age of Fitzwalkerstan, as the country dragged itself out of the wreckage of the Great Recession.

For its conclusion, the Washington Post's Politi-fact differs greatly in how it treats Walker's claims than the suck-up at the J-S's Wisconsin Politi-"fact" would do. It actually uses context and marks down Walker for intentional deception in his statements, instead of isolating the words and parsing in an effort to grade Walker on a favorable curve (as they always do at Wisconsin Politi-crap).
Walker cites figures from BLS data on the number of new jobs created, and the rate of unemployment and labor force participation. However, the context in which he uses these figures exaggerate the progress under his term and deflect from his failure to keep a major campaign promise.

This shift in rhetoric is important. Anyone who followed Walker’s campaign for governor will remember his “250,000” jobs promise. Now, on the campaign trail, Walker instead focuses on the decreased unemployment rate and increased labor participation rate compared to the national level.

His characterization that the Wisconsin unemployment rate is “far lower” and the labor force participation rate is “far higher” than national rate is misleading. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is not quite one percentage point lower than the national average (0.7% as of July) , and labor force participation rate is roughly five percentage points higher than the national average. Even if state-versus-national comparisons were kosher — and they are not, according to BLS — the trends Walker highlights are not unique to his term as governor. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was lower than national, and its labor force participation rate was higher than national, since before he took office.

Three Pinocchios
Now that's a real analysis of Walker's record on jobs, much deeper than most of the "he said, she said" crap we see in the local media.

But they left out one key stat at the Post. THE WALKER JOBS GAP, which is now over 97,000 private sector jobs (as of the last state report in July), and 88,000 jobs overall, and we need another 3,000 jobs added in this week's August jobs report just to keep pace with the rest of the country.

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