Wisconsin jobless rate declines to 5.5 percent
In the last economic report before Wisconsin's Nov. 4 gubernatorial election, the state's unemployment rate fell to a preliminary 5.5 percent in September, down from a revised 5.7 percent in August and 6.6 percent in September 2013.
In the last economic report before Wisconsin’s Nov. 4 gubernatorial election, the state’s unemployment rate fell to a preliminary 5.5 percent in September, down from a revised 5.7 percent in August and 6.6 percent in September 2013.
This week’s monthly report from state Department of Workforce Development, which is based on preliminary estimates, shows that September’s jobless rate is the lowest since October 2008, meaning Wisconsin gradually is approaching levels last seen before the global 2008-09 recession.
Separately, Wisconsin gained 8,400 private-sector jobs in September from August, which the state agency called “statistically significant.” But the monthly estimates are subject to major revisions because of the small size of the government surveys. The unusually wide margin of error means the state’s estimates can be off by as many as 7,980 jobs in either direction in any given month.
The governor’s race, which pits incumbent Republican Scott Walker against Democratic opponent Mary Burke, has hinged on job creation and economic management.
Both candidates are touting different sets of jobs data in the heated race.
It is now apparent that Walker cannot keep his promise to create 250,000 private-sector jobs in a single term - a likelihood seized upon by Burke. Walker, meanwhile, charges that Burke’s record was not any better when she served as commerce secretary for two years under Walker’s Democratic predecessor, Jim Doyle.
“This is more great news for working families and it’s more proof that Wisconsin is heading in the right direction,” Walker campaign spokeswoman Alleigh Marré said in a statement Thursday. “We’ve come too far over the last four years to let Mary Burke and her failed policies take us backward.”
Burke’s campaign, meanwhile, focused on a different set of data called the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which shows that Wisconsin was “dead last” in the Midwest in job creation, according to the latest available three-year segment of census data.
Quarterly census data tracks the economy in rolling 12-month increments, measured every three months. Burke’s campaign, however, didn’t mention that Wisconsin leapfrogged two neighboring Midwestern states in the latest 12-month period from March 2013 to March 2014. In that period, Wisconsin surpassed Illinois and Minnesota because job creation in those two states slowed.
“Wisconsin’s job growth this year is on pace to be the worst yet under Gov. Walker. In fact, this is on track to be the worst year for job growth since the Great Recession,” said Burke campaign spokesman Joe Zepecki.
Politics aside, the August unemployment rate lies well below Wisconsin’s high point of 9.2 percent in 2009, although not yet back to levels of about 5 percent prior to the 2008 financial crisis, which triggered the worst downturn since the Great Depression.