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At the end of March, the data that economists regard as the most accurate (QCEW) came out for September for all states and showed that 21 months into Walker's term we had fallen from 11th in the nation in private sector job growth all the way down to 44th.

Monthly data (CES) from the last six months suggests that this is no blip and that we'll be staying in the mid-40s for at least the next two quarters.

Wisconsin job growth ranking

What are QCEW and CES?

QCEW is the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.  It's based upon reports that employers make to unemployment insurance programs and so provides a very comprehensive count of employees and wages and is produced quarterly, coming out about 6 months later.  Unless, that is, unless it's politically convenient for the governor of an individual state to pre-release unverified numbers six weeks early.

It's important to note that QCEW data is not seasonally adjusted, which enables certain people who don't want to understand that to look like ignorant fools.

CES is the Current Employment Statistics program.  It's based principally upon a survey of a subset of employers and aims to measure pretty much the same values as QCEW, except it's a monthly survey that comes out typically two weeks rather than six months later.  It's also available in a seasonally-adjusted version, which is what usually gets quoted in headlines when the data is used.

So what's the chart showing then?

Since QCEW is not seasonally adjusted, you can only consistently compare values across 1-year spans (or some other whole number of years).  What I've done is to gather the QCEW data for all 50 states and rank them by the percentage private sector job growth over the prior 12 months for each quarter.  Then see where my beloved Wisconsin sits.

The exception to this the last two rankings given.  While the latest QCEW data we currently have is from September 2012, the latest CES data we have is for March 2013.  What I have done for these two rankings is to make up a whole year from 3 or 2 quarters of QCEW changes added to 1 or 2 quarters of CES (not seasonally adjusted) changes to make a whole year of not seasonally adjusted changes.  For instance, for March 2013 the Wisconsin calculations are as follows:

QCEW private sector jobs, March 2012: 2,253,990
QCEW private sector jobs, September 2012: 2,342,956
CES private sector jobs, September 2012: 2,405,300
CES private sector jobs, March 2013: 2,330,500

March 2012 to September 2012 change = 2,342,956 - 2,253,990 = +88,966
September 2012 to March 2013 change = 2,330,500 - 2,405,300 = -74,800
March 2012 to March 2013 change = +14,166
As a percentage: 100% x 14,166 / 2,253,990 = +0.63%

You may have noticed that QCEW and CES disagree about the number of private sector jobs in September 2012.  This is quite normal because while CES attempts to estimate the total number of jobs in various categories, QCEW obtains an exact number for almost (but not quite) all of them.

So what would be considered a good growth rate?

A few comparisons for March 2012 - March 2013 growth calculated this way:

+0.63%: Wisconsin (44th place).
+2.24%: United States (good for 15th place).
+2.34%: Minnesota, a similarly-sized, bordering state that has Democratic trifecta control instead of Republican trifecta control (13th place).
+2.65%: Wisconsin, if it were on course from the start to reach Walker's 250,000 jobs promise (good for 11th place).
+4.79%: Wisconsin, if it changed course right now to reach Walker's 250,000 jobs promise (good for 3rd place).
+5.80%: North Dakota, land of the energy boom (1st place).

The last all-QCEW ranking that will be available in November 2014 will be for the 12 months leading up to March 2014.  So there are only four more quarters for Walker to change course following the flypast of a squadron of porcine aviators, or to buy a very expensive lipstick to put on them instead.

Crossposted to

Originally posted to GeoffT on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 05:11 PM PDT.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive, In Support of Labor and Unions, and Community Spotlight.

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