SCOTT WALKER: On jobs, he's like a rolling stone | WisCommunity

SCOTT WALKER: On jobs, he's like a rolling stone

[img_assist|nid=64243|title=Pour me another|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=188|height=141]Wisconsin's dismal economic and job-creation performance during Scott Walker's first year in office -- worst in the nation, actually -- doesn't mean a damn thing. At least not if you're Scott Walker, who is working overtime to hang onto his own job. Because he's doing it to us again.

Remember the original June 2011 estimate that the state had created 15,000 jobs in that month? The job creation spike that Walker loudly touted over and over? Turns out, according to adjusted state figures, the actual number was near zero. Whoops.

Despite an entire first year in office during which the state lost thousands of jobs under Walker despite a head start from the departing Doyle administration, January 2012's numbers just came in showing -- ta-dah! -- that 15,000 jobs were created statewide in the month. Almost the same number as originally reported for June 2011. And just as with last June, Walker and his acolytes are trumpeting this latest statistic as proof that "it's working." Except that, once again, they're jumping the gun.

Based on recent experience, we ought to wait a few months for adjusted, refined figures. The newly released and revised figures from all of 2011 show that the state lost a net five-figure number of jobs under Walkernomics last year, despite a first-quarter boost that carried through from the departed Doyle administration. Walker and his minions ignored the generally bad news all year, pretending his budget -- enacted in the spring -- was "working" across Wisconsin.

Then came the bogus June spike in job creation, which walker loudly touted as not only further proof of his sound policies, but as a monthly number that trumped all other job creation elsewhere in the entire United States. Both wrong, as it turned out.

The Department of Workforce Development and US Bureau of Labor Statistics eventually adjusted the June numbers downward to almost zero, as part of their routine work to refine initial estimates.

But the press is gulping the Kool-Aid once again, saying that while other numbers are bad for Walker politically, the January 2012 up-tick is good news for him. Really? Shouldn't they have learned from last time and waited for the dust to settle?

Walker isn't waiting. He's got the recall election to worry about, so he's splashing a new TV ad across state airwaves, telling everyone Wisconsin is working again. He focuses on the state's slightly declining unemployment rate, which at 6.9 percent is the other statistic that seems to work in his favor.But not so fast. According to today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

"Economists note that the employment head count worsened throughout much of last year, while the unemployment rate dropped by 0.8 percentage points in the 12 months since January 2011, when it stood at 7.7%. Part of the reason for the disparity is that the two figures are extrapolated from entirely different monthly surveys and measure different things: The total employment head count stems from a survey of employers, while the unemployment rate comes from a survey of households."

Half of the improvement in the state's unemployment rate stems from the way data are collected, a labor consultant told the newspaper. "The unemployment rate survey excludes anyone who gave up looking for work, meaning those people vanish from the statistics and effectively improve the rate."

Meanwhile, 15,000 Wisconsinites gave up looking for work and dropped out of the labor market in 2011, accounting for half the decline in the state unemployment rate, according to the consultant.

So, Wisconsin's unemployment glass is half full if you're Walker and half empty if you're everyone else. Or empty if you're still unemployed. But we're doin' just great, according to Gov. Sloe-Eyed.


March 9, 2012 - 9:51am