State job numbers present mixed picture on economic growth

The Department of Workforce Development released a flurry of job numbers Thursday, touting figures that showed Gov. Scott Walker about a quarter of the way to his goal of 250,000 jobs while downplaying monthly estimates that showed a loss of more than 24,000 jobs last month.

DWD first released its preliminary job figures for the fourth quarter of 2012, which showed an increase of about 62,000 private sector jobs during Gov. Scott Walker’s first two years in office. Those numbers are based on actual job counts of most establishments in the state.

Later in the day, DWD released monthly job estimates that featured two diverging surveys.

The first, based on a survey of Wisconsin households, showed the state with an unchanged unemployment rate of 7.1 percent and 7,800 more people employed in April. The second set of numbers, based on surveys of employers, showed the state losing 24,100 jobs overall, including 22,600 in the private sector.

Walker’s administration has repeatedly criticized the methodology behind the monthly survey, pointing out large revisions to previous estimates. The administration has touted quarterly job counts as the more accurate figures.

“The preliminary monthly estimates are often volatile, unreliable, and not reflective of current economic conditions,” said DWD Secretary Reggie Newson in a statement. “During the same week as the sampling for the monthly estimates, initial Unemployment Insurance claims dropped. This shows the federal government’s monthly estimates must be considered in context. We have a responsibility to provide the public with reliable labor market information, and we urge the public to look at other indicators to get the full picture of Wisconsin’s economic growth.”

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*See the release using quarterly data: