Saturday, April 16, 2016

The more we look at March's WIsconsin job report, the less we believe

I touched on this a bit in my rundown of the alleged huge March Wisconsin jobs report that came out on Thursday, but Chris Walker at Political Heat expanded on it (with a great Scooby-Doo visual). Chris's story gives needed extra background info that likely gives a clue into how deceptive the Scott Walker Administration is being, in the hopes that you'll be tricked into their confidence game on the state's economy.

First of all, that "largest 12-month jobs increase since 2004" that the Walker boys are claiming? It's actually less than the increase these guys were bragging about this time last year.
But there’s a problem -- though the year-to-year private sector job numbers do show more than 47,500 jobs being created from March 201[5] to March 201[6], they are unrevised, and thus unconfirmed. Indeed, look at the same jobs report put out by DWD from a year ago -- the March 2014 to March 2015 data -- and you’ll see that the Walker administration says pretty much the same thing.

Wisconsin added 48,200 private sector jobs from March 2014 to March 2015, ranking third in the Midwest for rate of job growth.
Now if you’re like me, you just made the “huh” sound along with a very quizzical look. How could the current jobs report (47,500 jobs created) be the best since 2004 when last year’s report (48,200) showed a better performance?

The answer is simple: the numbers had been revised since that time. In fact, last year’s jobs report was revised down by more than 16 percent of its original projection.
Chris goes on to note that a similar thing happened in the "number of people working" part of the report, with that increase being revised down by more than 30% later on.

And a look at the state-by-state jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics yesterday should make you even more suspicious of Thursday's Wisconsin jobs figures. Nationwide, the manufacturing sector seemed to contract in the 1st Quarter of 2016, with the latest bad news being the 6th drop in 7 months for industrial production. In fact, the Federal Reserve reports March to have the largest decline in production more than a year. Employment has also nose-dived in manufacturing, with 29,000 jobs being shed in that sector in March alone.

Most of the Midwest reflected that drop in manufacturing, with 5 of the 7 states losing jobs in that sector, and a combined total of 11,500 jobs lost in the 6 states that aren't Wisconsin. But the DWD says we went the other way in Dairyland, and allegedly saw factories hire all over the place last month.

Change in manufacturing employment, March 2016
Ill. -3,100
Ind. -1,500
Iowa -3,000
Mich -600
Minn +1,000
Ohio -4,300
Wis. +4,200

We seem like quite the outlier, don't we? And February's manufacturing employment figures were also revised up for February, making the gain even larger. Knowing what is going on in the rest of the country and especially the Midwest, does that manufacturing number ring true to anyone here? It certainly doesn't to me.

Oh wait, I know what's caused the turnaround in Wisconsin jobs. All of these increases have happened since former DWD Secretary Reggie Newson abruptly quit in January as the state's jobs numbers were set to be revised and benchmarked for 2015 (showing the state to be among the worst in the Midwest). Maybe the huge increases for the first three months in 2016 are all due to new Secretary Ray Allen, and there's some great new strategy that has been unlocked in that time.

Yeah, that's the ticket. It can't be that these Wisconsin jobs numbers are BS, soon to be revised downwards, and the flailing Walker Administration is desperately trying to convince an increasingly disapproving public that yes, this time "it really is working," could it?


  1. How much influence do Walker/DWD have over the numbers they report? I'm very skeptical of anything coming out of this administration, but I was under the impression that the federal BLS did the numbers, and the only place for WI DWD to work their magic was in cherry-picking and spinning in the narrative report that accompanies the data. Does DWD have any say in how the survey is conducted or how the data is modeled?

    1. I was under the impression DWD did the modeling, and reported it up to BLS. Now, BLS has certain parameters and rules for it, but I thought it was bottom-up.

      The removal of Newson and the big leap in jobs is....interesting.