What do you do if you're a governor just weeks away from a close election and widely reported government jobs numbers show that your state lost jobs last year, amounting to the worst jobs record in the country? If you're Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, you find some new numbers.
Walker is releasing Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages numbers for December 2010 to December 2011 six weeks ahead of time because by this measure, Wisconsin gained 23,321 jobs rather than having lost 33,900 jobs as the Current Employment Survey showed. While the Quarterly Census is generally considered more accurate than the Current Employment Survey, "states nearly always wait for the national release—or at least until the federal authorities review and revise the state data, a process meant to weed out mistakes that usually involve small changes."
More significantly, since Wisconsin alone is releasing its Quarterly Census numbers now, its results can't be compared to those of other states. Even with the turnaround from having lost jobs by one measure to having gained them by another, Wisconsin could still lag behind other states.
This about sums it up:
"It is, I think, stunning that Scott Walker has suddenly found 57,000 jobs and gone from negative to positive three weeks before an election," said Barrett campaign spokesman Phil Walzak. "The timing is enormously suspicious. . . . Clearly the governor is losing the argument on jobs with the people of Wisconsin, and he's now trotting out these new figures in an extremely unusual way."Walker is particularly lucky in that, if he can get Wisconsin voters to pay attention to these new numbers, he has a chance to claim success even though these numbers put him just 9 percent of the way toward meeting his four-year job creation target of 250,000. Without the earlier numbers showing overall job loss, a gain of just 23,321 would look weak in relation to what he promised.