UpFront: WMC head, UWM professor discuss Wisconsin job creation

Kurt Bauer, president of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, downplayed the likelihood Gov. Scott Walker will fall short of his pledge to create 250,000 new jobs in his first term, saying the quality of jobs being created offsets his failure to keep pace with his promise.

But Marc Levine, head of the UW-Milwaukee Center for Economic Development, countered on “UpFront with Mike Gousha” that Walker’s policies have hurt job creation, arguing the state performed better compared to the national average in the decade before the guv took office.

Bauer said 95 percent of his group’s members think the state is “headed in the right direction.”

“I think we’re adding the right kinds of jobs,” Bauer said on the show, which is produced in conjunction with WisPolitics.com. “You see that jobs may be growing faster in some other states, but many of those jobs are service sector, they’re part time; in Wisconsin we’re growing manufacturing jobs.”

According to Bauer, Wisconsin ranked 10th in the nation for job growth in the manufacturing sector from April 2013 to April 2014, positions he said pay 35 percent more than the median average. Bauer said unemployment stood at 9.2 percent when Walker took office and credited the governor’s policies for a reduction to 5.8 percent.

Levine refuted those numbers, saying unemployment stood at 7.8 percent in January 2011. He also said Wisconsin outperformed the national average from 2001 to 2010, and blamed sequestration and Walker’s refusal of federal funds for a stall in economic growth.

“At the federal level we had a dramatic shift in policy; we had the stimulus package in 2010, which actually significantly boosted the Wisconsin economy,” Levine said. “At the state level, Governor Walker essentially put into place … the WMC agenda of tax cuts for the rich, the tax on unions and deregulation, which I think has also undermined the ability to create jobs in the state.”

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