The following table from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics just might be the most telling example of what a disaster Scott Walker’s economic policies have been for Wisconsin. It also helps illustrate the methods used by Walker’s administration to confuse the public.
The data are quite clear. There were 23,900 fewer employees on Wisconsin non-farm payrolls in March, 2012 than there were in March, 2011. The Wisconsin economy is shrinking.
So how can Reggie Newson, the Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development under Scott Walker, claim in a press release issued yesterday that “Approximately 18,500 more Wisconsin residents are employed compared to March 2011” ??
If you want a really thorough explanation of how both can be true, you can see the technical notes on the BLS website.
The short explanation is that statistics are gathered from different surveys. For the table above, “Persons are counted at their place of work rather than at their place of residence.” The numbers cited by Secretary Newson, however, are based on a survey that “measures employment and unemployment on a place-of-residence basis.”
So, it can be true that a larger number of Wisconsin residents are working now even though the total number of jobs in Wisconsin has dropped significantly. Many Wisconsin residents work in Chicago, or the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, or in Dubuque. As those states have added jobs, the number of Wisconsin residents finding work across one of the borders has increased. They reside in Wisconsin, but they work in Illinois, or Minnesota, or Iowa.
It’s good that people are finding work, but it is not ethical or honest for Scott Walker or Reggie Newson to imply that Walker’s economic policies are working. Wisconsin is not creating jobs. Walker is taking credit for jobs created in other states while Wisconsin’s economy is shrinking, not growing. Walker and Newson can play with the numbers all they want, the fact is Wisconsin was the only state in the nation to see a statistically significant decrease in the number of jobs over the last 12 months.