MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Gov. Scott Walker’s administration reported Thursday that just over 28,000 private sector jobs were created in Wisconsin last year, the lowest annual amount since Walker took office.
Walker promised during the 2010 election, and again during the recall less than two years later, that by the end of 2014 the state would add 250,000 private sector jobs. But after three years, based on the employment count Walker chose and that economists say is the most accurate, the state is only 37 percent of the way toward meeting the promise.
Between 2011 and 2013, the state added 91,678 private sector jobs. When taken together with monthly totals from this year, more than 101,000 private sector jobs have been added under Walker’s watch. That compares with a decrease of 133,000 private sector jobs over the previous four years, which included the national recession.
Walker’s job-creation performance is a major issue in his re-election campaign against expected Democratic opponent Mary Burke. While it’s all but certain Wisconsin won’t add as many jobs as Walker promised, something Burke says shows his policies have failed, Walker argues the economy has improved and is headed in the right direction.
“While friends and neighbors throughout Wisconsin are going back to work thanks to our improving economy, there is much more work to be done to ensure everyone who wants a job can find a job,” said Walker’s Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson.
When Walker made the job-creation promise, he tied it to quarterly jobs numbers reported by the state to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those numbers are based on hiring reports from nearly every employer in Wisconsin.
The monthly figures are based on a survey of just 3.5 percent of employers, which Walker said makes them less reliable. Still, he does add the monthly numbers to the three-year totals to reach the 101,000 job-creation total that he touts on the campaign trail.
Based on the more reliable BLS numbers, the state added 29,800 private sector jobs in 2011. In 2012, 33,872 were added. The DWD reported on Thursday that the preliminary number for 2013, which will be verified by the BLS in a report out June 19, was 28,006.
The private sector job growth in 2013 was 1.2 percent.
The June 19 report from BLS will include job numbers for all 50 states, which allows for comparisons with Wisconsin’s performance. In the last report, covering the first three quarters of 2013, Wisconsin’s private sector job growth ranked 35th nationwide.
DWD also reported Thursday that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate for April dropped to 5.8 percent, the ninth straight month it’s gone down. It was 5.9 percent in March. The report also showed the state added 7,600 private sector jobs in April.