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Wisconsin Job Numbers

as submitted by the Office of John Murtha

Over the past two years, job numbers have been pouring out of the media and from every political facet.  The problem is, the numbers are constantly different, depending of course on which side of the aisle they are coming from.  I wanted to take a moment to explain why so many of us are receiving mixed signals when it comes to Wisconsin’s place in job growth and business standing.

 Monthly job estimates are almost always flawed and are a very poor indicator of what the economy truly looks like in Wisconsin.  The Department of Workforce Development has acknowledged this repeatedly along with papers such as the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.  Due to this fact, studies and rankings using monthly estimates should be viewed with scrutiny.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that the federal government’s estimates of private-sector jobs created in 2012 were underestimated by as much as 70,000 jobs.  The BLS went on to prove Wisconsin had job growth during every month in 2012.

There are many state and federal agencies as well as publications that list job growth numbers monthly and annually.  They should always be reviewed and checked for accuracy and factuality.  The Quarterly Census of Wages and Employment (QCEW) is one private organization that takes actual job counts from roughly 96% of Wisconsin employers.

The QCEW has proven that Wisconsin gained over 62,000 private sector jobs in the last two years and that the gains under Governor Walker are the best two-year gains under any Wisconsin Governor in over a decade.  Wisconsin has also created more manufacturing jobs in the last two years than the last ten years.  Manufacturing jobs continue to grow strong at 4.4% from 2010 to 2012.

Many have heard that Wisconsin ranks 44th in the nation in job growth.   As I mentioned above, job number data is collected and distributed on a monthly basis.  By releasing the numbers so soon, there tends to be a high rate of error.  After the U.S. BLS reported the rankings, they released a statement saying they had underestimated job growth by 70,000 jobs.  They also have admittedly ranked 40 other states at the same spot since 2010, causing 40 states to be ranked 40th since 2010.  46 states were also ranked between 1 and 15 in the same time period.

To make things a bit more confusing, in the same quarter as being ranked 44th in the nation in job growth, Wisconsin was ranked 26th in the nation for total private sector jobs created.  These rankings and numbers show that we as voters need to continue to educate ourselves and be aware of the truth within the reports we read every day.  I work hard to ensure all of the numbers released from my office are up to date and factual.

After two fiscally responsible budgets and much needed reforms, Wisconsin is on the path to economic growth and prosperity.   We are currently ranked number 17th in CNBC America’s Top State for Business, the highest we have been since 2007.  We are also 13th in the Site Selection magazine’s “Top U.S. Business Climates.”  For the first time since 1998, we are ranked in the top 25 states.  In January, the U.S. BLS reported that we had the largest jobs gain since 1992.  Our unemployment rate dropped to 6.8 percent; lower than the national rate of 7.9%.  We even gained 17,500 jobs from May to June 2013.

I ran on the promise of supporting responsible legislation that would help turn our state around, create jobs, and grow our economy.  Job numbers will continue to be reported on in the news media and it is up to us as citizens and voters to keep ourselves informed.  Wisconsin has created thousands of jobs, increased our business standing, and reduced our unemployment rate all while passing a balanced and fiscally responsible budget.  We have reduced income taxes for the middle class and have held the line on property taxes for another two years.  Wisconsin is on the right path and is, more than ever, open for business.