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Sure Wisconsin was dead last in jobs…unless you count all the numbers.

May 16, 2012

Here’s the story:

State officials said they show a gain of 23,321 jobs (public and private) between December 2010 and December 2011, which represents Gov. Scott Walker’s first full year in office.

That stands in sharp contrast to a commonly used and widely reported monthly jobs measure, the Current Employment Survey, which earlier this year showed an estimated loss of 33,900 jobs in Wisconsin for the same 12-month period.

Wow, that’s quite a swing. Instead of losing almost 34,000 jobs in 2011, according to this, Wisconsin actually gained more than 23,000. Not exactly stratospheric numbers, but a helluva lot better than the Democrats’ favorite talking point.

But wait, where’d this new number come from? How come we’re just hearing about it now?

Job numbers are reported in different ways, based on different sources, and it’s been common throughout the current recovery for different data to tell different stories.

But in this case, one set of well-publicized numbers (from the Current Employment Survey of businesses) put Wisconsin at the very bottom of 50 states in job creation during Walker’s first year.

That’s the “Democrats’ favorite talking point” I mentioned before.

These figures were based on a sample of 3.5% of the state’s employers and are subject to significant revisions.

What? A survey? That’s where they got their numbers? A survey of a tiny minority of Wisconsin’s employers?

How the hell did we not know this? Another question: how do we know these new numbers are any better?

The other numbers, from the Quarterly Census, tell a more positive story, one the Walker administration is in a hurry to get out. They are based on a jobs count, not a survey. Each state gathers the quarterly census data from virtually all employers in both the public and private sectors, which are mandated to share staff and wage data as part of their tax and unemployment insurance reports. That makes it a more reliable source of employment data, state officials and many economists say.

Not only “state officials and many economists,” I’d guess. When you’re collecting data from “virtually all employers,” compared to surveying only 3.5% of employers, that’s a much better sample.

That’s a more reliable number.

The Barrett campaign’s response?

“It is, I think, stunning that Scott Walker has suddenly found 57,000 jobs and gone from negative to positive three weeks before an election,” said Barrett campaign spokesman Phil Walzak.

“Suddenly found” with a quarterly report. Quarterly. That means four times a year.

“The timing is enormously suspicious. . . . Clearly the governor is losing the argument on jobs with the people of Wisconsin, and he’s now trotting out these new figures in an extremely unusual way.”

Ah, so the timing is bad. Notice the spokesman isn’t attacking the numbers. He isn’t suggesting that the numbers are wrong. Just that the timing is “suspicious.”

Well, give him credit. It’s not easy, losing your best talking point. You’ve gotta spin it somehow.

One more thing: read this Christian Schneider piece for a little more in depth-ness. Video and Power Point, even!

Hat tip Charlie Sykes. More at Hot Air.

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