Or Will It Take a Mere 11 Years (Based on the Data the Governor Now Recommends)?
Bad news, Wisconsin. According to new jobs figures that were released today, Wisconsin lost 5,900 jobs, including 6,200 jobs in the private sector, between March 2012 and April 2012. However, the bad numbers got scant attention in the Dept. of Workforce Development's press release today, which contends that we should be using a different measuring stick.
Governor Walker has pledged to create 250,000 new jobs in the private sector during his first term. In pursuit of that goal, state policymakers have increased taxes for working families and cut taxes for the well off, made changes that will throw thousands of Wisconsin residents off health insurance, and increased university tuition.
Regardless of what measuring stick one uses, those changes haven’t yielded anything close to the kind of positive job growth that Wisconsin is seeking. Using the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for the period December 2010 through April 2012, employment in Wisconsin’s private sector grew by a paltry 400 jobs. The chart below shows how little progress Wisconsin has made towards Governor Walker’s goal (measured according to the widely used BLS data).
If Wisconsin continued to create private sector jobs at the same rate that it has since December 2010, it will take 833 years to reach Governor Walker’s goal of creating 250,000 new jobs.
Wisconsin’s job record over the last 12 months is dismal. Between April 2011 and April 2012, Wisconsin lost 21,400 jobs, 11,100 of which were in the private sector, according to BLS figures. (Nationally there was an increase of a little over 2 million jobs during that period, which amounts to growth of 1.9%.)
The BLS data show some modest employment growth in Wisconsin over the past few months. So far in 2012, Wisconsin gained 12,200 total jobs (+0.4%), including 10,100 in the private sector. (The April jobs figures are preliminary and will be revised next month.) And the one positive piece of news in today's BLS data is that Wisconsin's unemployment rate dropped to 6.7% in April, from 6.8% the previous month.
This week, Governor Walker suggested using an alternative measure of job growth, one based on a state survey of employers. But even using that more favorable yardstick, it would take Wisconsin about 11 years to reach the goal of 250,000 new jobs.
In the chart below, the orange line shows the trajectory of growth needed for Wisconsin to create 250,000 jobs in four years, the blue line shows the Governor’s new figures (the QCEW stands for Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages) and the green line shows the Bureau of Labor Statistics figures that have traditionally been used to measure job growth. This chart shows total job change rather than focusing on private sector job growth, because those are the figures that the Department of Workforce Development used in its press release.