Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Yet another subpar Wisconsin quarter, and more proof Walker Admin inflated jobs totals

Today featured the release of the topline numbers for the “gold standard” Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages for the 3rd Quarter of 2018. As usual, it showed Wisconsin to be falling behind the rest of the nation, but also we were behind the claims of the now-departed Walker Administration.

For the 29th straight quarter, Wisconsin was in the bottom half of US job growth, this time at 32nd (based on this table from the Bureau of Labor Statistics with a paltry rate of growth of 0.77% (22,000 jobs). (FYI- I'm going by the CSV files and comparing the two time periods. The PDF release had Wisconsin as low as 36th)

This placed Wisconsin around the middle of the pack for our part of the country, as part of 4 states in the Midwest that grew jobs at a rate less than half of what was happening in the rest of the country.

Total job growth, Sept 2017-Sept 2018
U.S. +1.63%
Ill. +1.00%
Ind. +0.93%
Wis. +0.77%
Ohio +0.76%
Mich +0.74%
Minn +0.74%
Iowa +0.58%

The job figures are lame enough, but the lack of wage growth in “Open for Business” Wisconsin is more alarming, as we were 32nd in this nationwide and smack dab in the middle of the Midwest (4th out of 7) for this as well.

Worse, our wage gap with our better-compensated neighbors continued to grow. Especially with our neighbors across the St. Croix River.

Average weekly wage, Midwest Sept 2018
Ill. $1,087 (+$30 vs Sept 2017)
Minn $1,074 (+$44)
Mich $991 (+$27)
Ohio $947 (+$27)
Wis $901 (+$25)
Iowa $887 (+$32)
Ind. $883 (+$22)

The QCEW jobs figures also confirm something I strongly suspected before the November 2018 elections - the Walker Administration was badly overestimating job growth. Take a look at the last jobs release that came out less than 3 weeks before the election, which talked up “the strength of the Wisconsin economy.”

The "gold standard" tells a different story.

Wisconsin total job growth, Sept 2017- Sept 2018
Walker DWD +41,700
QCEW +22,000

The same press release also claimed that the state added 22,800 manufacturing jobs over that time, and while there wasn’t a breakdown of individual industries in today’s QCEW report (that’ll come with the full release in 2 weeks), past history strongly suggests that will be revised down as well.

I think it’s well past time to have new DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman take a look at the statistical methods that have been used to find out why Wisconsin continues to get these totals revised down when subjected to the “gold standard”, don’t you?

This report also shows that when Republicans in the Capitol ARE LYING when they claim “we’ve left Wisconsin in great fiscal and economic shape.” The deteriorating infrastructure and services show that the fiscal part is BS, and this QCEW report offers yet another quarter of subpar job and wage growth.

This state needs a different strategy beyond “give it all away to the rich and corporate and hope it comes back to the average Wisconsinite…somehow.” So let’s see what Governor Evers has in his budget next week to try to end the underperformance Wisconsin has been plagued with during the GOP-dominated Age of Fitzwalkerstan.

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