Friday, May 18, 2012

The New Jobs Data Source Cited by the Governor Shows Wisconsin is Still the Caboose of the Midwest

Yesterday I posted about the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages ("QCEW") data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that is now the Governor's new gold standard on job creation data.

Kindly disregard what Governor Walker told Wisconsin Public Radio back in May of last year concerning how carefully compiled and reliable he believes the monthly unemployment reports issued by the BLS are.  On "Morning Edition" this morning, WPR played a sound bite of the Governor from last spring saying how reliable the BLS's monthly unemployment data are.  That data set, recently showing Wisconsin performing worse than all the other 49 states in job creation under the governor's tenure, is the old gold standard.

The new QCEW statistics for Quarter Four of 2011, released by Secretary Newson for the first time in advance of being audited by the BLS, are interesting for what wasn't released.

1.  There was no public release of weekly wage data,  Each year except for 2009, in the midst of the Bush recession, weekly wages have been rising in the Badger State on an annual basis.  In 2009, weekly wages dropped by a scant $2.00 compared to the previous year.  But weekly wages rebounded in Governor Doyle's last year in office, and over the entire eight-year period, average weekly wages grew by $143 or almost $7,500 in average annual income.  This was an increase in average wages of over 23% over the eight years of the Doyle administration.  We can't compare the growth in weekly wages over the last year, assuming there has been any growth, because the Walker administration hasn't provided us this data.  One has to assume that this is based on laziness or cunning.  I suspect the latter.

2.  There was no breakdown by industry groupings.   The data provided by Wisconsin to the BLS as part of the QCEW data set break down total jobs into the following categories:

Natural resources and mining
Trade, Transportation and Utilities
Information Technology
Financial Activities
Professional and Business Services
Education and Health
Leisure and Hospitality
Other Services.

This breakdown would permit the citizens of Wisconsin to see where the 23,000 new jobs were created.  Are the new jobs in Manufacturing (Harley-Davidson) or in Leisure or Hospitality (Burger King)?  All this data had presumably been sent into the BLS, and while it is apparently safe to trust the voters with the total of "all industries" job creation, it isn't necessary to give us the industry segments breakdown.

3.  There was no data available on a county-by-county basis.   Here is a link to the Wisconsin QCEW data for September 2011 showing data on a county-by-county basis.  (You can alter the "Map Series" scroll-down table to select "total employment.")  If you scroll down to the tables below the map at this site, you can click on the total employment figure for each county and find ten years of job data on each county.  Think the Governor might provide the Milwaukee County data so that people could gauge his claim that Milwaukee has hemorrhaged jobs under the Barrett administration?  Think again.  No worry, that is a rather silly contention anyway.  Mayors have little impact on job creation or loss, and poor Barrett went through a massive economic depression in 2008 and 2009 which I will cheerfully continue to refer to as the "Bush recession."  One reason not to provide any county-by-county data is that much of the northern third of the state has in fact hemorrhaged jobs during the Walker administration.  You wouldn't want that kind of data slipping out just before a recall election!  23 of Wisconsin's 72 counties have actually lost jobs in the one year period from September 2010 to September 2011.  Tough break for you folks in the counties of Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Buffalo, Sawyer, Vilas, Price, Lincoln, Iowa, Kenosha, Rock, etc.,etc.

One interesting aspect (for the Walker Administration) of the release of the QCEW data in advance of its being audited and released by the Feds is that there isn't any comparable data from other states to which we can compare Wisconsin's job creation performance.  For this reason, the last data for which we can do this is Quarter Three of 2011, ending in September 2011.  Here is a table that shows Wisconsin's performance over the one year period from September 2010 to September 2011 compared to the usual suspects of other Midwestern states:

You will note that we trail all the other Midwestern states, half of them by a ton.   Minnesota and Michigan have created jobs at almost twice our rate, and there is that pesky Illinois, whipping us once again, even under the new gold standard for job data.

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