Jobs, unemployment focus of governor's race

The dome of the Wisconsin State Capitol (file photo).
The dome of the Wisconsin State Capitol (file photo).

ASHWAUBENON - When it comes to jobs and unemployment, both Governor Walker and Mary Burke have been pointing to their time in office.

For Walker, it's what he has done since becoming governor in 2011. For Burke, it was when she served as commerce secretary under Governor Jim Doyle from 2005 to 2007.

Speaking at Austin Straubel International Airport, Walker said it is two different eras.

“The only time Wisconsin's unemployment rate has been higher than the national average was while my opponent was the secretary of commerce,” said Walker. “I'll leave voters to look at the facts.”

In January, Wisconsin's unemployment rate was 6.1 percent, the lowest since November 2008. The national rate was 6.6 percent. A FOX 11 Fact Check found the last time Wisconsin's rate was higher than the national rate was October 2007. That was Burke's last month as commerce secretary.

Speaking in Milwaukee, Burke says her unemployment numbers are still better than Walker’s numbers.

“We have an unemployment rate that exceeds when I was at commerce, so when I say it went up, it went up from 4.8 to 6.2 percent,” said Burke.

Burke says she also wants voters to remember Walker's 2010 campaign promise of creating 250,000 jobs.

Department of Workforce Development numbers show the state has added just more than 100,000 jobs since December 2010.

“He made a promise to the voters of Wisconsin and I think he should stand behind his promise and the voters of Wisconsin should hold him to that promise,” said Burke.

Walker says his focus remains jobs. Particularly the next two weeks, when lawmakers are working on new legislation.

“To me, for us really, it's all focused about jobs and accountability, about making sure we get more resources to get more people the training they need to get in the workforce,” said Walker.

We are still waiting to hear from Burke on she plans to create jobs. Since February, Burke has been saying she'll have a plan in the next month or two. She says voters will have plenty of time to look at it before the November election.