A Look at Wisconsin’s Job Growth (Rose-Colored Glasses Optional)
New jobs figures released last week show that Wisconsin’s economy added jobs at a slow pace in February 2012. Last month, 8,300 new jobs were created in Wisconsin: 4,000 in the private sector and 4,300 in the public sector. February figures are preliminary and will be revised next month.
Administration officials noted that Wisconsin has created private sector jobs for two months in a row, and that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate, at 6.9 percent, remains well below the national average of 8.3 percent.
But taking off the rose-colored glasses, we can see that it is unrealistic to expect that Wisconsin will create 250,000 new private sector jobs by 2015, as the Governor pledged. Between December 2010 and February 2012, Wisconsin’s economy added just 8,100 new private sector jobs, as shown by the chart below. If Wisconsin’s economy continues to add new private sector jobs at this pace, Wisconsin wouldn’t add 250,000 new jobs until the end of Governor Walker’s 9th term in office. In pursuit of job creation, Governor Walker and the Legislature have hiked taxes on working families, undercut the state’s commitment to education, and rolled back support for local communities.
The Wisconsin economy created jobs at a promising pace in the first months of 2011 before going into a skid for the second half of the year. Even after two months of job growth, Wisconsin has 16,900 fewer total jobs in February 2012 than it did a year ago, as shown in the chart below.
February’s job growth, though slower than anyone would like, at least represents some increase in the number of jobs in Wisconsin. Let’s hope that 2012 is a better year for job growth in Wisconsin than was 2011.