Revisiting Wisconsin’s Job Numbers: Prognosis? Not So Good

By YeOldeScribe ~ March 13th, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

Not too long ago, Political Progressives blogged about how Wis. Gov. Scott Walker would not be able to fulfill his campaign promise of adding 250,000 jobs to the Wisconsin workforce. Of course, politicians failing to keep their word from the campaign trail once they reach office is nothing new – President Barack Obama campaigned in 2008 that he would cut the deficit in half by 2012; yet it’s gone nowhere but up during his tenure at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

However, two interesting developments have arisen since then. First, new data (Note: PDF) from the Department of Workforce Development has been released, suggesting that the not-so rosy numbers are even bleaker then they first appeared. According to the new data, Wisconsin posted an overall decrease in jobs in 2011, not an increase as Gov. Walker has touted all year. Also, the three biggest months of gains all come well before any of Walker’s policies would have had any tangible effect on Wisconsin’s economy.

Now, to be fair, the adjustment also means that the state gained 250 jobs in September, meaning that Wisconsin didn’t really have six consecutive months of job loss – a statistic widely circulated by the anti-Walker crowd (including us). However, that doesn’t change the overall picture painted by the DWD – under Walker’s tenure, the state is hemorrhaging jobs while the rest of the country is gaining them (especially in the Midwest).

The other interesting development comes from none other than Walker (with special guest star Rebecca Kleefisch). Both the Governor and his Lieutenant Governor have recently come out extremely critical of the recent job numbers. Kleefisch said that the statistics used had a margin of error around 75 percent. While we’ll contend that the numbers are usually not 150% off (although Kleefisch usually is), our esteemed Lieutenant Governor does bring up a good point – these numbers were not meant to be taken as gospel truth. Talk to anyone who interacts with them often – one of the three Secretaries of the DWD (so far) under Gov. Walker’s 1-year tenure, for example. Ask the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, which actually conducts the studies. These numbers are estimates, and yet everyone and their mother accepts them as fact as  if they came from God himself.

We’re not going to contend that the numbers are spot on – PolitiFact proved that wasn’t the case when they reviewed Kleefisch’s absurd claim. But what’s interesting is that this hasn’t always been the tune the Walker administration was singing. Back when the DWD was releasing figures that showed Wisconsin was gaining jobs under the Walker administration (which they spun to say “Walker was bringing jobs into the state”), those numbers were paraded across the media like you wouldn’t believe – and no one was questioning their accuracy then.

Project Vote Smart has a clip from the Governor talking about how awesome the numbers are for Wisconsin and how it means we’re on the right track again. This excellent PolitiFact article (we’re going to reference it a lot) gives a whole boatload of examples from Walker, Kleefisch and the Walker administration that those numbers were accurate. And we can’t put it any better than PolitiFact did:

“What’s the bottom line?

Walker took credit for gains in state jobs for six months of 2011, as the monthly reports showed steady progress toward his promise of creating 250,000 jobs. In the second half of the year, the numbers began to decline and the governor’s approach shifted, with Walker in December criticizing the quality of the data.

But nothing had changed in how the data was collected.

Only Walker’s pronouncements on their accuracy. We rate this a Full Flop.”

Smooth, Scott. It’s one thing to make a promise and break it. Especially in politics, it happens all the time. But it’s another thing to blame the numbers as inaccurate – especially when you were touting their accuracy not 6 months before. President Obama isn’t doing this – while he probably wouldn’t like to acknowledge that he’ll never be able to make good on his promise, he’s not trying to weasel his way out of it by saying “The fed isn’t keeping accurate numbers.” Instead, he’s pointed to tangible things that have changed since he got into office – dealing with the economic downturn sparked by outgoing President George W. Bush, a do-nothing congress that has led to nothing but political turmoil and gridlock, and several foreign crises that demanded our attention. (Again, we are not saying that Obama breaking his promise was a good thing. It’s not. We should all keep our promises. But Obama didn’t have to flip-flop to explain his situation. Walker did.)

In the end, the big issue is this: Scott Walker promised us that in four years, we would see a net increase of 250,000 jobs. After one calendar year with Scotty Boy in command, we lost 9,700. We were supposed to gain 62,500. Ms. Kleefisch, you don’t want to even start thinking about what the margin of error looks like for those numbers.

The issue we brought to your attention in the last post was that Scott Walker lied to the good people of Wisconsin. Hopefully this post has shown two things: Walker’s lie was even bigger than we originally thought, and that in a failed attempt to cover his own arse, Walker had to flip-flop (aka lie again).

Is this really the man you want leading the Badger State?


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