Thursday, June 18, 2015

Walker’s jobs performance a lesson in failure

State growth from 2010 to 2014 was 60 percent slower than national average, worst among bordering states

Quarterly figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics came out this week -- and the numbers once called the “gold standard” by the Scott Walker administration are showing that his policies have stifled Wisconsin’s job growth.

From December of 2013 to December of 2014 -- the fourth year of Gov. Walker’s tenure -- the state ranked 38th in the nation in job creation, with just 35,759 total private sector jobs created in that time.

The final year of Walker’s first term also marks an important milestone: in this year, the governor’s pledge of 250,000 jobs, which he promised to create in 2010 (helping to win him his current seat), was due. And how did Walker stack up?

It’s clear Wisconsin (under Walker) is failing in job growth compared to elsewhere

Of the 250,000 jobs he promised, Wisconsin only garnered about 51.7 percent of that number, or just under 130,000 jobs.

To some, that still sounds like a lot. But perspective is needed -- the growth represents a four-year rate of about 5.69 percent. That’s the smallest rate of growth among the states that neighbor us.


Illinois grew by 5.98 percent during that time. Michigan saw an 11.41 percent growth. Iowa grew by 6.5 percent, and Minnesota grew by 8.04 percent. The average rate across the country was more than 9.3 percent.

That national point-of-view is especially telling. From December of 2010 to December 2014 -- the four years that Walker has run the state -- Wisconsin grew jobs slower than 36 other states (DC included).

Demand stifled in the state

How did Wisconsin fail so badly? The answer is simple: demand was stifled.

When people are short on money, they typically spend less of it, holding onto what they can in case they need it later.

So when taxes are raised on the poor, when health insurance options are denied to struggling families, and when workers’ paychecks are cut (in private and public sectors), it makes it harder for the consumer class to spend money.

That creates a ripple effect: with less money spent, businesses across the state struggle to expand, or even to stay afloat. They can’t hire without more capital, but they have no incentive to hire without a product being needed either. Demand provides both.

That’s why huge cuts in taxes to the rich and corporations fail to grow jobs -- it stifles growth, because capital unattached to demand for a product is created.

Companies that get thousands of dollars in tax breaks don’t need to spend it on creating a labor force if they got that money outside of the cycle of supply and demand. They simply pocket the revenues.

Does Walker notice Wisconsin is struggling?

The big question is whether Walker notices -- or cares -- that the state he “leads” is even in trouble.

While he campaigns for president across the country, Walker is trying to rush through a “crap” budget that even his allies in the legislature don’t like.

The quality of the budget he proposed doesn't matter, however, at least to Walker. The faster he can get the budget passed, the sooner he can start his run for president in earnest.

The budget is riddled with serious problems, including massive cuts to education that even Republicans said needed restoring.

That doesn’t bother Walker. His budget submission was more of a mission statement for his impending run rather than a fix for Wisconsin’s problems.

His refusal to acknowledge the mess in jobs the state is in is equally troubling. This isn’t a simple case of the emperor realizing he’s not wearing any clothes -- this is Gov. Walker, with the dire job numbers sitting right in front of him, still holding out and saying he’s a leading model for the nation to follow.

Walker spins, but he can't hide from the data

There have been gains in jobs since Walker took office, but I fear they have been made in spite of Walker’s initiatives rather than because of them. When your state is 60 percent slower than the national rate of recovery during your time in office, that’s not progress -- it’s failure.
Wisconsinites are coming to realize that Walker’s “reforms” haven’t been a godsend -- instead, they’ve resulted in one of the slowest state economies in the Midwest, indeed, within the nation overall.

We can’t afford more of this failure. When Walker does finally decide to resign, Wisconsin will have to reassess how it goes about growing jobs in the future.

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