Burying the lead: News media ho-hum about state's latest, lousy jobs report | WisCommunity

Burying the lead: News media ho-hum about state's latest, lousy jobs report

The official State of Wisconsin web page reporting on jobs is still stuck in the past, touting the fact that, as of last Dec. 12, the state's unemployment rate had declined to 5.2 percent. Whoopee! Party on, dudes!

And so far, the state's news media haven't done much to update that skewed perception of great results under Walkerism. Oh, it did come up in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, albeit buried in the back of the paper's business section, with this relatively understated headline:

"Wisconsin gained 27,489 private-sector jobs in the 12 months from September 2013 to September 2014 — a 1.2% growth rate, according to data released Tuesday by the state," the Journal Sentinel said. Click the headline above for the full story.

In a news release, the state Department of Workforce Development inappropriately if not illegally propagandized the latest figures as evidence that "Wisconsin continues to see economic growth under Governor Walker's leadership,"  but the Journal Sentinel's hard-to-find story put it in a more nuanced context:

"Tuesday's September-to-September report shows that Wisconsin continues to add jobs at a pace that's virtually unchanged throughout the current economic recovery." Which is to say: Wisconsin continues to lag badly, compared to most states.

But not to worry! Our state's dour band of PR-sensitive Republicans insist that their coming right-to-work-for-less law, yet more power concentrated in Walker's notoriously inept Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and Walker's further, massive cuts to public education will fix all that. At some point. Maybe. Ehhhh.

We say hokum, they say ho-hum! The Journal Sentinel, again:

"In the that breaks out state-by-state data — and covered the 12 months from June 2013 to June 2014 — Wisconsin gained 35,021 private-sector jobs. That amounted to a 1.5% growth rate, which trailed the national rate of 2.3% in the same period."

I suppose if you're a wealthy one percenter, that margin of difference actually might sound good.

Left unsaid by the state or in the Journal Sentinel's latest report: Wisconsin consistently has been ranked among the dozen or so worst job-producing states throughout Walker's tenure. We actually were doing better in the final months of the Doyle regime, even though the state was still pulling it back together after the frightful economic de-pantsing of the Great Recession.

Journal Sentinel reporter John Schmid did remind readers that under a practice begun by the Walker administration, the state's release of quarterly census data always comes weeks ahead of the comparative national report. "That means the Wisconsin data appears in isolation, making it impossible to compare Wisconsin's latest performance with other states or with the national pace of job creation."

Which, of course, was the Walker administration's clear intent: Fuzz things up to make themselves look better.

However, one can still compare the latest state quarterlies to past state quarterlies, and when you do, things don't look too great. 

The Journal Sentinel story repeats the Walker-friendly rationale that Wisconsin's low job growth compared to most states results mainly from the fact that we're more manufacturing-intensive than average. More precisely, the paper says job growth nationally has been mostly in low-wage employment, mainly the service sector. Schmid wrote that "those types of low-paying jobs have grown at a much slower pace in Wisconsin."

Implication: the Wisconsin job picture really will look better statistically when we start creating more low-wage jobs! And Team Walker is on it!

Thanks to the state GOP's new right-to-work-for-less blitzkrieg, many of those new or lower-paying jobs won't just be at fast-food counters, they'll also be the prevailing new subsistence wage structure at an increasing number of formerly well-paying manufacturing firms.

How wondrous that improvement will be: delicious statistics you can take home after work in a paper bag, to chew on for dinner! Of course, maybe nothing of substance will, as usual, be inside that bag, in which case simply gnaw on the bag itself. Mmmmm. Paper-y.

So, to sum up, continue to enjoy your crappy, economic "freedom" as Walkernomics takes full hold across this state, which every day lags further and further behind our sensible neighbors over on the other side of the Mississippi River, where the economy under Democratic Party rule is growing like crazy.

As for job and economic growth statistics and public policies, garbage in, garbage out, as computer programmers like to say. It's this simple, if you're Scott Walker:

Force mean-spirited and tightwad fiscal policies upon valuable state institutions and skilled workers, creating a mean-spirited, tightwad state where fewer and fewer people will be of independent financial means.

Oh, and also: Cut state social safety net programs to punish the growing crop of working poor people for (ahem!) getting themselves into this fix.

Then, run for president on all this very grief you've caused the people of Wisconsin, taking huge amounts of time from your official state duties and spending profusely from your money bin full of dark, corporate, campaign cash. It's your "Our American Tent Revival Tour."

It's also vampire politics of the worst sort, guvn'r. So be careful when you're out trolling for votes and get the urge to wave around a figurative crucifix, because you might burn yourself.


February 25, 2015 - 8:57am