In case you haven’t seen it yet, there was a good article posted today on the Journal Sentinel website by John Schmid – on the subject of job creation in Wisconsin. Specifically, he examines the latest comparative data from the Quarterly Census on Earnings and Wages (QCEW), which is the measure the Walker Administration said during the months leading up to the recall election we should be using.
The latest numbers from that survey indicate that Wisconsin ranked 42nd in job creation during the 12-month period from July 2011 through June 2012. Our state gained 35,381 private-sector jobs, which was an increase of 1.5%.
The Quarterly Census has the important attribute that is based on a survey of 96% of public and private sector employers, compared to a survey of only 3% of employers for the monthly data. However, the monthly survey numbers are much more widely used because the quarterly numbers don’t get released until six or more months after the jobs numbers are collected.
As you may recall, last spring when the monthly data showed that Wisconsin had been losing jobs, the Walker Administration engaged in a vigorous campaign for using the quarterly data. They made the very valid point that the much larger survey makes the quarterly data far more reliable, and they began releasing the Wisconsin quarterly numbers a couple of months before the results for all 50 states are released by federal officials. The Governor’s ads pointed with pride to the growth shown in those quarterly figures. Although that growth was actually rather anemic, it sounded good when it was framed in comparison to the job losses shown by the less reliable monthly survey data.
Last spring when the Department of Workforce Development was “preleasing” Wisconsin’s quarterly data, it wasn’t possible to examine those figures next to comparable national data from the same time period. Now that we have comparable data for all the states during fiscal year 2011-12, we can see that only 8 other states had lower rates of job growth during that period.
Schmid’s article notes that there is a more positive aspect of the 12-month job change in Wisconsin – with respect to manufacturing jobs: He wrote that our state:
“…ranks 20th in terms of private-sector job creation in the manufacturing sector, with an increase of 11,788 new production jobs, or 2.6%. The Badger State, however, trails several other Midwestern manufacturing states: Michigan (5.2% or 26,774); Indiana (4.3% or 20,298); and Ohio (3.9% or 24,648).”