WisBusiness: July jobless rate climbs to 7.3 percent as state touts gains from early in 2012

Two sets of job numbers released by the Department of Workforce Development were picked apart by both parties Thursday, with Democrats saying DWD’s preferred numbers actually show a job loss since Walker took office.

Thursday’s monthly estimate from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the state lost 6,500 jobs in July and 29,400 jobs in the last year. A survey of state households showed an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent in July, up 0.3 percent from June.

However, DWD officials also released the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages number for the first quarter of 2012, which shows the state gained 28,100 jobs from March 2011 and March 2012.

The QCEW data is compiled from Unemployment Insurance claims from 96 percent of employers in the state and is seen as a job count rather than a job estimate. The unemployment number is an estimate based on a sample of 5.5 percent of employers in the state.

When asked if the state released the QCEW job data to contrast with the monthly unemployment figures — which the administration of Gov. Scott Walker has repeatedly criticized — DWD spokesman John Dipko said the data was due to the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the end of the day Tuesday and was made ready for public release by the end of Wednesday.

“DWD completed data file submission to BLS within this deadline,” Dipko wrote in an e-mail. “From there DWD needed to extract the necessary data from the files, assemble them in a format that could be shared with the public, and then review the data for accuracy and completeness. This process concluded yesterday.”

Walker said during a press conference on an unrelated issue that he was happy about the gain showed by the QCEW numbers, but that the gain was “still too little.”

He also said he expected Wisconsin’s job recovery to continue to be slow because of “uncertainty” stemming from the Affordable Care Act and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the law earlier this year.

“Until the election’s over, until there’s some certainty, I think we’re going to see in Wisconsin what we’re seeing nationally, and that’s a pretty sluggish recovery,” Walker said.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, put out a press release later claiming that Walker’s preferred statistics actually showed a drop of 26,946 jobs since Walker took office.

An aide in Barca’s office pointed to a 2011 QCEW release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing the state with 2,665,900 jobs at the end of December 2010. Comparing that number to the 2,638,954 jobs reported in March 2012 results in the drop calculated by Barca’s office.

However, if the January 2011 number of 2,593,358 jobs is used as a starting point instead, the state appears to have gained 45,596 jobs as of this March. The difference is a drop of approximately 70,000 jobs between the December 2010 numbers and those for January 2011 in the QCEW data.

Barca also highlighted the monthly numbers drop and reiterated a call for a “bipartisan” special session on jobs and job training.

“Leadership requires action and making job creation a priority,” Barca tweeted from his twitter feed. “After today’s data can we come back in and work together on creating jobs?”

— By Jason Smathers