Are you ready for another twist in the saga of Wisconsin jobs figures?
Governor Walker has placed a great deal of emphasis on job creation in Wisconsin. But month-to-month jobs figures released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) have shown that job growth in Wisconsin is flat.
In May 2012, the Walker Administration released jobs figures from a different source, called the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). These figures showed that Wisconsin made modest job gains in 2011. At the time, Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson said that the administration had released the figures ahead of schedule because “employers, job creators and job seekers need to know the truth about the actual job picture in Wisconsin so they can make informed decisions.” With the figures available at the time, it was not possible to make comparisons between Wisconsin and other states using the QCEW.
That changed today, when complete figures were released. It turns out that Wisconsin ranked 41st in job growth among the states in 2011, according to the QCEW. The number of jobs in Wisconsin grew by 19,600 in 2011, or 0.7 percent. That was half the rate of the national job growth of 1.4 percent. Wisconsin’s job growth in 2011 was the lowest in the upper Midwest, as shown in the chart below.
The Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) analyzed both the new job numbers and the QCEW wage data, and they found that average weekly wages in our state fell 2.4 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the fourth quarter of 2011. As the bar graph in the COWS analysis illustrates, only 8 other states had larger declines in wages over that time period.
Now we have two different sets of jobs figures, both showing Wisconsin lagging the rest of the country in job growth. As the COWS report concludes: “Wisconsin has yet to connect completely with the national and regional economic recovery. The workers of Wisconsin are being left behind, regardless of what data you choose to look at.”