New jobs numbers prompt dispute in recall race

The Walker administration today took the unprecedented step today of releasing preliminary employment numbers that indicate Wisconsin may have created 23,321 jobs in 2011.

According to the unverified report by the Department of Workforce Development, Wisconsin employers have now put 33,521 people back to work since Gov. Scott Walker took office. Walker, a Republican, faces a challenge by Democrat Tom Barrett in the June 5 gubernatorial recall race. The quarterly data issued today by the Department of Workforce Development is comprised of reports issued to 96 percent of Wisconsin employers (over 150,000 Wisconsin employers). The size of the reported universe makes quarterly data much more reliable, as monthly jobs numbers are created from a small sample – only 3.5 percent – of Wisconsin employers, the Walker administration said. Walker said, “The actual data clearly shows that Wisconsin gained thousands of jobs in 2011. Contrast this to the more than 100,000 jobs lost in the three years before I took office when unemployment peaked above 9 percent. Now, the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 2008. While there has been mixed information regarding previously reported estimates, the actual data released today shows Wisconsin experienced job growth in 2011. Today’s data aligns with other signs that our economy is improving such as falling unemployment, increased tax revenues, and household employment surveys which have consistently shown more Wisconsinites are working. It’s clear that from actually counting jobs for more than 96% of Wisconsin businesses we are headed in the right direction.” The report was released just one day before the nonpartisan federal Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its April jobs numbers that are traditionally and commonly used by analysts in every state to assess the labor market. Phil Walzak, communications director for Barrett’s gubernatorial campaign, said the release of the preliminary numbers today is an attempt by Walker to distract attention from “the fact” that under his watch, Wisconsin lost more jobs than any other state in the country in 2011, and was the only state in the nation to suffer significant job loss over the past 12 months. Walzak said the Walker campaign is ignoring the standard, trusted job statistics and instead highlighting unverified figures. “When it has suited him, Scott Walker has happily referenced the standard jobs statistics that basically everyone in the country uses. But since these regular, trusted numbers clearly show that Wisconsin leads the nation in jobs loss on his watch, Walker is desperate to distract from his worst-in-the-country jobs record. In a move that is virtually unheard of, Scott Walker is suddenly trotting out an altogether new set of unverified numbers – three weeks before an election – to mask his economic failure. Walker ran on a campaign promise to create 250,000 jobs and 10,000 businesses over four years. He is failing on both counts and is desperate to change the conversation on jobs with an election looming. Today’s cynical announcement isn’t about how best to calculate job growth in Wisconsin – this is about Scott Walker pulling political stunts to save his own job.”


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