Here’s the latest in truth-stretching from Scott Walker, trying to save his job amidst a recall election. Walker knows that he is most vulnerable on the subject of jobs. The entire recall election will probably ride on that fact. So he’s spinning his record in a big-money ad blitz, months before the recall date.
“In the three years before I was elected, Wisconsin lost 150,000 jobs.” That’s based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and it covers the peak years of the Great Recession. Walker came to office saying he would reverse that, and promised 250,000 jobs during his first term. Needless to say, he’s come up well short of that in the first year. In fact, Wisconsin has lost jobs for the past six months, and only created 4,500 in that entire first year.
So how does Walker get out of this box? He changes the terms. “Today, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate? It’s the lowest it’s been since 2008.” This completely elides the fact that there was a boom for the first six months of his tenure, followed by six months of job loss as his agenda was put into practice. Half of the reduction in the unemployment rate, based on Google public data, was accomplished by April, at which point the labor market in the state stagnated. The only way that the state could have lost jobs for the last six months, and yet see the topline unemployment rate go down (which it has since August), is if more and more Wisconsinites have dropped out of the labor force. Either that, or people are leaving the state in droves. Neither option is really an endorsement of Walker’s economic policies.
Among all private sector jobs, no state has lost as much as Wisconsin in the last six months of 2011. Among manufacturing jobs, only California has lost more, and California has five times as big a population. This comes from the same Bureau of Labor Statistics that Walker cited in his ad. What’s more, as the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports, the state is an outlier on this front.
Alone among the 50 states, it has lost private-sector jobs for six straight months, raising the political and economic stakes of the next jobs report, due Thursday for the month of January.
Even feeble job creation would bring a sense of relief to a recession-weary state and a pro-business governor who campaigned on a promise to add 250,000 new private-sector jobs in his current term.
“The rest of the nation is moving upwards. We’re one of the few states moving downward. There’s something wrong,” said economist Steven Deller of the University of Wisconsin-Madison [...]
Wisconsin’s job losses can’t be readily explained as part of a broader pattern involving Midwestern or industrial states. Wisconsin’s neighbors are all outperforming the state when it comes to job growth over the past six months [...]
“Frankly, it’s a little bit inexplicable to us,” said Mike Klonsinski, chief operating officer at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the recently restructured state Department of Commerce.
That’s a great pullquote for recall supporters.
Economic indicators show only six states expected to have an economic contraction in the first half of 2012. Wisconsin is one of the six. And considering that the recall looks like it will happen in June, that means that the state will see economic contraction during the entire runup to the election. Bad news for Walker – and that’s why he’s spinning.
UPDATE: Do recall supporters have an argument to make to blame Walker’s policies for the economic downturn? Yes! Walker instituted an austerity budget that cut $1 billion over two years while cutting taxes for corporations, and we’re seeing the results. Cutting the take-home pay of public employees didn’t help either. Walker is trying to blame the uncertainty of the recall for all this, which is quite amusing.