Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) is pushing a report from his administration’s Department of Workforce Development that puts the state’s net private-sector job gains at 32,000 for 2012. Federally tallied figures for all states won’t be available until June, as CBS affiliate WSAW explains, which renders comparisons impossible:
Walker’s Department of Workforce Development released the new figures on Thursday, but they can’t be compared to other states until next month. Walker has been releasing the figures before they are published officially by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Critics say the state’s performance can’t be adequately measured until the numbers can be compared with other states. The most current ranking, comparing jobs created between September 2011 and September 2012, showed Wisconsin was 44th in the nation.
Walker is claiming a two-year total gain of 62,000 private-sector jobs, and a table on page 3 of the state’s report acknowledges the public sector is employing about 8,500 fewer people than it did the month before he took office. That puts the governor less than one quarter of the way to his campaign pledge of 250,000 total jobs created in four years.
If any independent organization would be likely to defend Walker’s record, it would be the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But the Chamber’s most recent annual scorecard of state economies has the state near the bottom in job creation, as the Madison Capital Times noted shortly after the report was released:
Its annual scorecard on state economies ranked Wisconsin 44th for overall economic performance and 50th — as in dead last — for short-term job growth as measured between September 2010 and November 2012. It also has Wisconsin 39th in “business climate” — on par with the state’s ranking under Gov. Jim Doyle.
Walker’s early-term agenda focused on busting public worker unions in the state and slashing state spending. His successes in pursuing those legislative goals amount to a localized version of the austerity approach to economic growth which Republicans have pressed with less success on the national level. Following the billions in budget cuts he pushed upon taking office, Walker has proposed both further cuts to school budgets and a tax cut that’s heavily slanted towards the state’s wealthiest residents.
Those policies have pulled demand out of the state’s economy, undermining Wisconsin’s growth prospects. Beyond the paltry jobs progress Walker is touting, U.S. Commerce Department figures show the state ranked near the bottom in terms of personal income growth over the 2011-12 period.