Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Scott Walker jobs “shell game” should anger every Wisconsinite

Walker administration keeps using year-to-year wording, hoping to fool you into buying his bogus jobs claims

Wisconsin released its latest monthly jobs report, and the news is stellar -- if it’s to be believed.

The problem? It’s not believable.

“Based on preliminary data, the state added a statistically significant 45,700 private sector jobs from July 2015 to July 2016,” the press release reads. But those numbers are based off of monthly jobs estimates -- they are not verified, and are based on a sample of under 4 percent of businesses statewide.

If that sounds like I’m being petty, don’t blame me: that criticism comes from Gov. Scott Walker himself, who made the case AGAINST using monthly jobs estimates during his run-up to the recall election in a piece titled “What is the Best Way to Count Jobs?”
While it is understandable that jobs estimates are often discussed when they are released, because they are the most recent job statistic, the actual job count data [released quarterly] is the gold standard of jobs measurement.
Emphasis in bold added.

Walker made that criticism four years ago. Today, he’s gloating about 45,700 private sector jobs being created using data from the unverified jobs reports:

This isn’t the first time this has happened, either. And data from today’s press release exemplifies just how Walker’s administration is playing fast-and-loose with the jobs numbers.

The press release today also contains the quarterly jobs report from the first quarter of this year. Those jobs numbers are more reliable than the month-to-month numbers, based off of a sample of around 19-out-of-every-20 businesses in the state.

They reveal that from March 2015 to March 2016 the state created 37,432 private sector jobs. That’s a decent number, and it indicates that jobs are growing in the Badger state (how they compare to the rest of the nation, however, remains to be seen; we’ll know that on September 7th).

But if you go back to the Department of Workforce Development’s website to see the news release from March, you’ll find some familiar wording:
Wisconsin added a significant 47,500 private-sector jobs over the year ending in March 2016…
That claim mirrors almost to the word what the claim from this month’s jobs report says. Yet the revision demonstrates that the initial claim made in March this year was 26 percent higher than what the actual jobs numbers ended up being.

BUT IT GETS WORSE. Go back a YEAR from then, to March 2015, and read the press release from THAT month:
The state added a statistically significant 48,200 private sector jobs from March 2014 to March 2015…
The revision from THAT claim went down also, to 40,168 -- or a decrease of 16 percent from the original jobs claim. TWO YEARS IN A ROW Gov. Walker and his Department of Workforce Development made a claim about year-to-year jobs growth that turned out to be significantly lower once the numbers were revised.

And they’re still doing it as evidenced by the jobs report released on today. Gov. Walker and his administration are hoping you don’t notice, or don’t care, that he’s being purposely deceptive in order to make his jobs claims look better. It should infuriate every citizen across the state.


OK, so beyond the shell games, how did we do now that we have the verified numbers from March in-hand? The results are hardly inspiring. In 2011, when former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s budget was still in operation, we saw a year-to-year verified report of 41,350 jobs created from March-to-March.

We have yet to surpass or repeat Doyle’s numbers under Walker’s tenure.

The latest verified numbers, on their own and without context, sound like things are getting better. And certainly 37,432 private sector jobs created from March 2015 to March 2016 is better than no jobs created at all.

But it’s also a slowdown when compared to Doyle’s last budget year, and a slowdown compared to last year’s numbers as well, when we ranked 40th out of 50 U.S. states in private sector jobs growth.

If I were a betting man, I’d expect a similar ranking -- or worse -- when the rest of the nation’s numbers are released next month.


  1. Great work here. I got a feeling the next 3 weeks will have a whole lotta Walker FAIL to report, between 2016 revenues, overcrowded schools, and another bottom 1/3 finish for jobs in QCEW

  2. Surfing the interwebs with the rain earlier today and not to get too far away from the topic, but here is the Lt Governor speaking by phone to Door County Daily News. (Warning: Almost 15 minutes)

    Wondering if either of you would be able to decipher and/or qualify anything Becky has to say on the jobs situation. I've read about the J1 Visa workers from Eastern Europe (Kurdistan, Moldova, Ukraine) filling a lot of these NE WI seasonal jobs but haven't seen any workers being recruited from Milwaukistan who must make up a substantial portion of the 30% of the labor force Becky says needs to get off the sidelines and participate.

    Oh and get your $50 ready to hear her and the Gov econosplaining soon, the agenda not quite ready for prime time yet. Brown bag lunch but I don't see any surplus t-shirts included in the fee.