Monday, September 10, 2018

Walker DWD tries to claim Wisconsin is reaching the "gold standard" in jobs. Not even close

Friday afternoon, after the “gold standard” Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) put out its full breakdown of information for the March 2017-March 2018 time period, Scott Walker’s Department of Workforce Development responded with its own spin on the numbers. And the key word is “spin”, because it is a lot of dishonest cherry-picking, starting with the fact that the release fails to mention that Wisconsin was 32nd in the US for its rate of private sector job growth from March 2017-March 2018.

That marks the 27th straight quarter the state has been in the lower half of the country under Scott Walker and WisGOP control, and it oddly wasn’t mentioned in DWD Secretary Ray Allen’s “analysis” of the numbers. I’ll skip that guy’s babble and get right into the jobs claims themselves, followed by the context that is so often lacking from the Walker Administration.
Wisconsin ranked 8th nationally in percent job growth in jobs in the construction sector year over year (March 2017-March 2018).
This is legitimately impressive. Wisconsin added over 7,000 jobs in construction in this time period, a growth of 6.7%, well above the US rate of 4.4%. I’ll add that this growth took place well before the groundbreaking at the Foxconn site, which should make you wonder why we needed to put in new tax breaks to add construction jobs in the state.

Contrast the unambiguous growth in construction jobs with the dubious takes that follow in the Walker DWD’s report.
Wisconsin ranked 10th nationally in the number of manufacturing jobs added year over year.
So what? Wisconsin was 9th in the nation for the most jobs in manufacturing in March 2017, and has the 2nd largest proportion of jobs in manufacturing out of any state in America.

If 227,501 jobs were added in manufacturing nationwide in that time period, (based on the QCEW figures for all private industry sectors) we should have been booming in a sector we have a ton of those types of jobs in. Instead, Wisconsin trailed the US rate of job growth in that sector, despite numerous tax cuts for manufacturers in the state (1.7% in Wis, 1.8% in US).
Wisconsin ranked 12th nationally in percent increase in average weekly wage or the private sector year over year.
It’s a nice rate of increase, BUT THE PAY STILL SUCKS. Wisconsin was still in the bottom half of the US for average wage in private sector jobs, at $969 a week. And the dollar amount of the raise ($38) only puts Wisconsin in a 4-way tie for 18th.

Also compare that $969 a week with the rest of the Midwest, and Wisconsin isn’t competitive with most of its neighbors.

Average weekly private sector wage, Q1 2018
Ill. $1,265
Minn $1,197
Mich $1,086
Ohio $1,000
Wis. $969
Ind. $963
Iowa $916

Even worse, the 1st quarter of a calendar year is when Wisconsin generally does the best in this “average weekly wages” statistic, since more part-time and seasonal jobs kick in as the weather warms after March.
Wisconsin ranked 24th in number of private sector jobs added year over year
We were 20th in population and 17th total private sector jobs in March 2017. So being 24TH IS A SIGN OF FAILURE, NOT SUCCESS.
Wisconsin ranked 20th nationally in year over year job growth in the Education and Health sector.
Another “SO WHAT?” Wisconsin was 19th in total jobs in this sector in Q1 2017, and the rate of growth of 1.5% put them smack dab in the middle of the country (25th).
Total wages in Wisconsin's private sector grew by 5.4 percent, 9 percent in the construction sector, and 3 percent in the manufacturing sector.
This is a common Walker Admin trick. Total wages = jobs x wages. So you have to divide the total wage growth by the jobs growth to get a real number. And when you do that, the numbers change quite a bit.

Change in average weekly wage per job, Mar 2017-Mar 2018
All private sector +4.1%
Construction +2.5%
Manufacturing +1.1%

Now the private sector figures look pretty good, when you consider the Consumer Price Index only grew by 2.4% in this same time period. But real construction wages barely grew at all, and the average manufacturing wage grew by less than ½ the rate of inflation, placing Wisconsin 48th out of 50 states in the nation.

Walker’s DWD then shifts gears and includes a number of items on the job statistics recorded in Wisconsin over the last 12 months, through the last report of July 2018, and focuses in on an alleged boom in manufacturing jobs. The first problem with this is that those figures haven’t been adjusted to the “gold standard” numbers through March, and the QCEW already showed that manufacturing jobs in particular were overstated in Wisconsin for most of those months.

Wis manufacturing job growth March 2017-March 2018
Walker DWD monthly reports +12,800
“Gold standard” QCEW +7,913

Still good, but not nearly as good as Walker’s DWD is claiming it to be.

Let me also note that in Friday’s August jobs report for the US, there were significant downward revisions for manufacturing job growth in recent months, and manufacturing actually lost jobs for the initial reports from last month.

If there were 25,000 fewer jobs in manufacturing in July vs what we had in the last report, it seems pretty logical that Wisconsin’s gains won’t end up being nearly as high as Walker’s DWD is claiming. That’s doubly so given that Wisconsin’s alleged 12-month growth for March missed the gold standard by nearly 5,000 jobs.

Any honest data analysis would admit this and adjust their numbers to account for it. The fact that the DWD report does do this proves they are using our tax dollars to be an arm of the Walker 2018 campaign instead of a legitimate data source.

I know administrations of all parties try to put a positive face on how things are going in their state/country. But when that crosses the line into blatantly dishonest campaign cheerleading that can be taken apart with 30 minutes of googling the source data, I get offended. And there are few more defining characteristics of the Walker Administration than offensive cynicism at taxpayer expense.

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