Despite Scott Walker having the worst jobs record of any governor in America through his first year in office, he and his allies have spent millions of dollars on television promoting the message that Walker’s economic policies are working. As the ultimate Orwellian battle between Walker’s propaganda machine and the actual economic data continues, here are some key facts to remember while we wait for today’s March jobs data release.
The jobs data released quietly in late March on Scott Walker’s own website shows Wisconsin to have lost 16,900 jobs over the 12-month period from February of 2011 through February of 2012. In addition, the overall drop in the labor force during that same period was -11,500.
Click here to see the page with the operative numbers highlighted. (They weren’t mentioned, and were buried deep in the DWD document that was posted on the website.)
This data makes two very important points to understand when evaluating the Walker administration’s claims on jobs and unemployment.
1) The loss of 16,900 jobs through the latest available (February) data ranks Wisconsin dead last of the 50 states in job loss. In fact, only 7 states lost jobs over the 12-month period, and Wisconsin lost more than 10 times as many jobs as the 49th ranked state, Mississippi. See this chart for the 50-state breakdown.
2) The lowered unemployment rate that Walker keeps touting can be entirely accounted for by people leaving the labor force and thus no longer being counted. The recent Saturday front-page story in the WisconsinState Journal documented that trend in great detail and the numbers bear it out.
The exodus of 11,500 people from Wisconsin’s labor force accounts for all of the percentage drop in unemployment over the last year in Wisconsin. In fact, if you had the same number of people in the workforce (3,070,800) as Wisconsin had last February, the unemployment rate would actually be slightly lower at 6.8%.
Let’s also not forget that Walker didn’t campaign on lowering the unemployment rate in the state of Wisconsin.
And his administration repeatedly pointed to increases in the workforce when the unemployment rate was rising.
The bottom line though is that Scott Walker could “accomplish” the same drop in the unemployment rate he’s touting by simply kicking 11,500 people out of the state of Wisconsin – which is functionally what happened. His “reforms” have nothing to do with any drop in unemployment rate.