Wisconsin leads nation in job losses but sees drop in unemployment numbers
Post by Emily Mills on 4/25/2012 11:35am
Recently released national numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Wisconsin saw the highest number of jobs lost over the past year, this despite the fact that the overall unemployment rate dropped slightly.
From March 2011 to March 2012 the state lost a total of 23,900 jobs. The majority of those--17,800--were public sector jobs, but the 6,100 private sector jobs lost marked a higher number than any other state in the country over the same 12 months.
Meanwhile, data shows Wisconsin's unemployment rate dropping from 7.6 percent to 6.8 percent between March 2011 and March 2012. Gov. Scott Walker's campaign has seized on the improved rate, as well as positive January-February hiring reports, in recent advertisements touting his "It's Working" tagline.
Wisconsin was one of 18 states that saw a significant drop in its unemployment rate. The decrease in that number can be difficult to explain coming alongside the increased number of jobs lost, in part because the statistics come from two different reports. Unemployment numbers can go down simply because more individuals are dropping out of the workforce entirely, unable to find work for a long enough period of time.
Democrats hoping to unseat the governor in a recall election June 5 have been quick to jump on the jobs numbers, pointing to Walker's campaign pledge to create 250,000 new jobs in his first term. According to PolitiFact, "The new [March] report puts state private-sector employment at 2,329,500, compared with 2,323,600 when Walker took office -- an increase of 5,900 jobs. That leaves the governor with 244,100 jobs left to reach 250,000."
"Scott Walker says he wants to make history and, shamefully, he has--making Wisconsin THE national leader in job loss," said Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate on Tuesday.
Department of Workforce Development secretary Reggie Newson had a more positive spin on the reports. "As we continue to move forward, we will see improvement in the numbers...There are a lot of other indicators that we see that show the governor's policies are working," said Newson.
In an interview with the Badger Herald University of Wisconsin professor of economics Andrew Reschovsky said "while the losses in the public sector are consistent with the Walker administration’s policies, the losses in the private sector are more of a mystery."
“I wish I could say I know what is causing the private sector job losses,” Reschovsky said. “The evidence suggests that there is nothing that Walker’s administration is doing specifically to cause a slow in growth.”
Reschovsky said one of the reasons the state could be lagging behind other states is because of the diverse nature of the state’s economy. He said the state brings in a lot of business from Europe, which is currently undergoing a financial crisis of its own.
An important thing to keep in mind, Reschovsky said, is there is only so much that can be done at the state level to encourage job growth and that politicians are likely to receive credit or criticism for changes they do not have complete control over.
Emily Mills is Editor-At-Large for Dane101, as well as Editor of Our Lives Magazine. She is also a freelance writer, photographer, actor, and musician (drummer and singer in local band Little Red Wolf). Originally from several states up and down the Midwest Emily has called Madison home since 2000. Contact her at