On Wednesday, Reggie Newsen, the Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), created a smokescreen with a set of job numbers that showed modest job growth in Wisconsin in 2011. There are a lot of reasons why those numbers are suspect, especially the fact that the new numbers contradict months of results showing modest job losses over the same period. There are other reasons why some experts raised an eyebrow. Newsen released them prior to having them verified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the numbers are benchmarked with an obsolete method no longer used by the BLS, and there is no way to compare them to other states. And of course, the numbers were released 20 days before the man who appointed Newsen faces a recall election.
Newsen claims the new method of measuring jobs and the unprecedented early release of unverified data was his idea and had nothing to do with Governor Scott Walker’s recall election. Magically, a slick TV ad featuring Walker quoting the same unsubstantiated numbers appeared on Wisconsin TV airwaves almost immediately after Newsen’s report was released.
Reggie Newsen is Walker’s 3rd DWD Secretary in just 16 months. If I were him I might feel a little pressure to find or manufacture some good news, so it’s no surprise that Newsen released the extra numbers the day before the regularly scheduled numbers came out.
Today, Newsen released what economists and the BLS regard as “real” numbers – the ones that are derived by methods used by all 50 states so they can be easily compared. That report shows Wisconsin losing another 6,200 private-sector jobs in April, 2012, continuing a general downward trend that began immediately after Walker’s budget and his budget repair provisions were put into effect.
It must pain Secretary Newsen to have to bury sentences like these deep in today’s press release:
Preliminary seasonally adjusted data show private-sector job numbers declined by 6,200 in April and by 11,100 over the year, but grew by a net 10,100 since December 2011. The net gain since December 2010 is 400. Total nonfarm employment decreased by 5,900 from March to April and 21,400 compared to April 2011, but grew by a net 12,200 since December 2011. A total nonfarm decline of 8,800 since December 2010 is entirely due to a drop in government jobs over this time frame.
Ouch. The net gain of private sector jobs since Walker took office is 400. Walker promised 250,000 private sector jobs by the end of his term. He’s a wee bit behind, wouldn’t you say? Nice litle dig at public employees at the end, too, since everyone knows that jobs like fire fighter, teacher, corrections officer, and road maintenance aren’t “real” jobs, right? The people who perform those jobs don’t spend “real” money in their communities either, I guess.
For all non-farm employment, Wisconsin has lost 8,800 jobs since Walker was sworn in. That’s the real number, before Newsen and Walker buried it under fake cheese. Tomorrow, the BLS releases data for all the states for the month of April so we can see how Wisconsin compares to the rest of the nation.