The Unemployment Numbers Scott Walker doesn’t want made public while he plays politics

Scott Walker is playing a political game with the unemployment numbers. Releasing unverified survey results last week, over one month ahead of the official verified Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) numbers, Walker again walked the thin line of legality in his “official” announcement – closely followed by the release of a new campaign ad on  statewide television. Recent long-term unemployment numbers not released by the Walker Administration were obtained from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) by Badger Democracy. These verified figures show that under Scott Walker, Wisconsin has suffered persistent long-term unemployment-which Walker himself has ignored in lieu of playing political games with the numbers in the short recall election cycle.

Walker claims that in 2011, Wisconsin saw job growth of 23,300 in the private sector. This data was in direct conflict with verified data from the BLS showing a net loss of over 30,000 jobs during the same time period. In the April Jobs Report released by the DWD the day after Walker’s miraculous press release, the verified BLS data shows Wisconsin with a net loss of 6,200 private sector jobs from March-April 2012. Private Sector losses for the year April 2011-April 2012 were 11,100. Walker now claims the BLS numbers to be in dispute, insisting his reforms are working and Wisconsin is gaining jobs – pointing to the declining unemployment rate, which dropped to 6.7%.

In Wednesday’s April unemployment rate report from DWD, Secretary Reggie Newson reiterated the good news about the states declining rate of unemployment:

“Compared to a year ago, unemployment rates are lower in every county, all metro areas and all major cities except Brookfield, where the rate was unchanged,” DWD Secretary Reggie Newson said. “More people are working, and we expect more people to gain employment in the weeks and months ahead.”

“More people are working…” If the unemployment rate is dropping, that must be true – especially if the Walker Administration says it is so…or is it?

Besides the conflicting numbers from Walker, there is a glaring problem in the analysis. During the same year in which the unemployment rate dropped from7.5% to 6.7%, the “Labor Force” has remained virtually flat. In fact, from January 2011 – April 2012, the Labor Force has actually DECLINED – from 3,069,656 to 3,068,900 (-756). This is significant, as the Wisconsin population grew 6% from 2000-2010.  This would statistically result in a growing, not declining labor force. Wisconsin DWD statistics show the state has a chronic unemployment problem, as shown by information obtained by Badger Democracy.

Badger Democracy submitted requests to DWD for the numbers of workers who have dropped out of the unemployment system – due to discouragement or other reason, after having looked for work the previous year, and being currently available for work. The number of workers receiving unemployment benefits who have exhausted their benefits was also requested. The numbers are staggering – especially when taking into account the current unemployed number for April 2012 reported as 205,300.

The tables on civilians not in the labor force from DWD show this as being a chronic problem from the first quarter of 2011, with the relevant data in bold type:

Table 11b. Civilians not in the labor force by sex and age, 1st Quarter, 2011 (based on CPS)
(Numbers in thousands)

  Total Age Sex
   
16 to 24
years
 
25 to 54
years
 
55 years
and over
 
 Men  Women
  Wisconsin
Total not in the labor force…………………… 1,363.7 221.0 249.7 893.0 589.8 773.9
Do not want a job now……………………….. 1,254.7 185.2 211.1 858.4 537.7 717.0
Want a job…………………………………. 109.0 35.8 38.5 34.7 52.1 56.8
Did not search for work in previous year……. 60.1 19.4 18.9 21.8 26.0 34.1
Searched for work in previous year…………. 48.9 16.3 19.6 12.9 26.1 22.8
Not available to work now………………. 7.3 5.8 1.5 4.6 2.7
Available to work now………………….. 41.6 10.5 19.6 11.4 21.5 20.1
Reason not currently looking:                        
Discouragement over job prospects…… 17.7 5.0 7.3 5.4 11.8 5.9
Reasons other than discouragement…… 23.9 5.5 12.3 6.0 9.7 14.1
 
The above table shows 41,600 civilians “Available to work now” from over 1.36 million “not in the work force” for various reasons in the 1st quarter 2011. This includes 17,700 who report having searched for work in the previous year, but are “discouraged over job prospects” currently. Another 23,900 are not looking for other reasons. According to Professor Laura Dresser at the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, a labor economics expert at UW-Madison, the discouraged workers number is always low in reporting – primarily because of people’s hesitance to report being discouraged. The total number of “not currently looking” must be considered, as people will drop out of the workforce in a poor employment climate using “other reason” instead of admitting to discouragement – becoming a “stay-at-home” mom, adult student, or other.
The second quarter of 2011 shows an increase of over 6,000:
Table 11b. Civilians not in the labor force by sex and age, 2nd Quarter, 2011 (based on CPS)
(Numbers in thousands)

  Total Age Sex
   
16 to 24
years
 
25 to 54
years
 
55 years
and over
 
 Men  Women
  Wisconsin
Total not in the labor force…………………… 1,358.1 209.6 274.9 873.6 563.5 794.6
Do not want a job now……………………….. 1,248.1 172.4 235.4 840.3 511.4 736.7
Want a job…………………………………. 110.0 37.2 39.6 33.3 52.1 58.0
Did not search for work in previous year……. 47.1 12.6 16.4 18.2 16.5 30.7
Searched for work in previous year…………. 62.9 24.6 23.2 15.1 35.6 27.3
Not available to work now………………. 15.0 8.8 3.9 2.2 5.1 9.9
Available to work now………………….. 47.9 15.8 19.2 12.9 30.5 17.4
Reason not currently looking:                        
Discouragement over job prospects…… 14.2 3.2 6.0 5.0 8.6 5.5
Reasons other than discouragement…… 33.7 12.5 13.3 7.9 21.9 11.8

The total for 2nd Quarter 2011, above, 47,900 civilians available to work , who looked last year, but have given up.

Third Quarter 2011 showed a little improvement, down to 44,700:

Table 11b. Civilians not in the labor force by sex and age, 3rd Quarter, 2011 (based on CPS)
(Numbers in thousands)

  Total Age Sex
   
16 to 24
years
 
25 to 54
years
 
55 years
and over
 
 Men  Women
  Wisconsin
Total not in the labor force…………………… 1,370.1 175.1 290.5 904.5 607.2 763.0
Do not want a job now……………………….. 1,265.4 148.0 248.2 869.2 559.4 706.0
Want a job…………………………………. 104.7 27.1 42.3 35.3 47.7 57.0
Did not search for work in previous year……. 48.4 9.7 20.7 18.0 20.0 28.4
Searched for work in previous year…………. 56.3 17.4 21.6 17.3 27.7 28.7
Not available to work now………………. 11.7 2.8 3.5 5.4 3.4 8.3
Available to work now………………….. 44.7 14.6 18.1 12.0 24.3 20.4
Reason not currently looking:                        
Discouragement over job prospects…… 14.3 6.7 4.8 2.8 8.8 5.5
Reasons other than discouragement…… 30.3 7.9 13.3 9.1 15.5 14.8
 

Fourth Quarter 2011 shows marked improvement, dropping to 28,500 – the “discouraged workers” dropping to 6,800:

Table 11b. Civilians not in the labor force by sex and age, 4th Quarter, 2011 (based on CPS)
(Numbers in thousands)

  Total Age Sex
   
16 to 24
years
 
25 to 54
years
 
55 years
and over
 
 Men  Women
  Wisconsin
Total not in the labor force…………………… 1,410.4 228.5 281.5 900.4 608.3 802.1
Do not want a job now……………………….. 1,332.9 202.5 257.5 873.0 566.7 766.2
Want a job…………………………………. 77.5 26.0 24.0 27.4 41.6 35.9
Did not search for work in previous year……. 44.0 13.3 9.8 21.0 24.9 19.2
Searched for work in previous year…………. 33.5 12.8 14.2 6.4 16.7 16.7
Not available to work now………………. 4.9 3.2 1.7 1.0 3.9
Available to work now………………….. 28.5 9.6 12.5 6.4 15.7 12.9
Reason not currently looking:                        
Discouragement over job prospects…… 6.8 2.7 3.1 1.0 5.3 1.5
Reasons other than discouragement…… 21.8 6.9 9.4 5.5 10.4 11.4
 
The significant drop in the fourth quarter is explained by Professor Dresser as due to temporary holiday hires – with the first quarter 2012 expected to see a steep increase as those holiday jobs come to an end. That pattern held true, as the number jumps to 35,200 – with the “discouraged number nearly doubling to 12,600:

Table 11b. Civilians not in the labor force by sex and age, 1st Quarter, 2012 (based on CPS)
(Numbers in thousands)

  Total Age Sex
   
16 to 24
years
 
25 to 54
years
 
55 years
and over
 
 Men  Women
  Wisconsin
Total not in the labor force…………………… 1,395.7 272.9 260.4 862.4 582.7 813.0
Do not want a job now……………………….. 1,312.3 245.1 230.6 836.6 538.2 774.1
Want a job…………………………………. 83.5 27.9 29.9 25.7 44.5 38.9
Did not search for work in previous year……. 41.1 12.5 15.6 12.9 25.4 15.7
Searched for work in previous year…………. 42.4 15.4 14.2 12.8 19.2 23.2
Not available to work now………………. 7.2 3.1 3.3 0.7 3.0 4.2
Available to work now………………….. 35.2 12.2 10.9 12.1 16.2 19.0
Reason not currently looking:                        
Discouragement over job prospects…… 12.6 4.0 2.9 5.6 5.0 7.6
Reasons other than discouragement…… 22.6 8.2 8.0 6.4 11.2 11.4
 
At the end of March 2012, there were over 35,000 civilians available for work – who had sought employment in the previous year, but gave up. These people do not collect benefits, nor are they reported as “unemployed” for reasons of calculating the unemployment rate.
How many workers have exhausted or been denied unemployment benefits for the same time period (Q1 2011 – Q1 2012)? The first response came in the form of an email from DWD spokesman John Dipko, and referred to those collecting extended benefits under the Economic Stimulus Act, which terminated in March, after Wisconsin’s unemployment rate fell below the 7% mark:
Wisconsin had 44,384 final Extended Benefits payments from January 2011 through March 2012. Exceptions include Extended Training and Trade Readjustment Allowance. While this is payment data (v. claimant data), the information provides a good indicator of the number unique claimants who have exhausted all benefits programs.”
Allow me to emphasize that number – 44,384 people were thrown off benefits in March. Again, that number is not reflected in the unemployment rate. The final email response from Dipko was to the question of regular benefits expired, or not qualified to collect benefits for the same period. The brief equation at the end is directly from the email:
“Scott: an additional 14,608 claimants during the time frame specified were identified as either regular claimants who did not qualify for emergeny unemployment compensation, or regular claimants who qualified for benefits in a different state. Except in very few cases, the claimants would have no benefits available in Wisconsin. Again, exceptions include Extended Training and Trade Readjustment Allowance. 
44,384 + 14,608 = 58,992″
Again, let me emphasize the total number by the end of March – 58,992 Wisconsinites living outside the system. Collecting zero benefits, and not being reported in the “unemployment rate.” But they are there. Nearly 2% of the total workforce…over 1% of the population. 29% above the current number of reported unemployed. If that number of individuals is added to the 205,300 unemployed, the rate would jump to 8.6%. If we include the 35,200 civilians who have given up looking for work, but had been looking the previous year, the total is 94,192 at the end of March, 2012. This would bring the unemployment rate to 9.8%.
While the presumptive rate above is speculative, there is one fact from this data that is striking. Wisconsin has a chronic and persistent long-term unemployment problem. At the end of March, 2012, as a state, we dropped over 50,000 people off benefits, and another 35,000 reported giving up looking for work. Professor Dresser characterized these numbers as “highly significant.” Dresser points out that to return to 2007 employment levels, Wisconsin needs 200,000 jobs now taking into account population growth. Even if we give Scott Walker the 23,000 jobs he says he created in 2011 – nearly double that number lost their emergency benefits in March.
In light of this long-term and persistent problem, Scott Walker’s supposed gains in the unemployment rate are meaningless. He is playing political games with the numbers to give the illusion of progress – when in reality, he has chosen political gain, ideological civil war, political patronage, and propaganda over addressing the real problem. There are real people who need real jobs, and they have been unemployed for a long time. The Walker Administration and 2011 GOP-led Legislature have done nothing to address this issue. This Administration has squandered the opportunity and trust placed in it by the people of Wisconsin – to work for the good of the majority of people in the state. How can there be any further doubt that a recall is not only justified, but necessary.

15 thoughts on “The Unemployment Numbers Scott Walker doesn’t want made public while he plays politics

  1. I dont believe that any of these numbers are correct and the only way to be accurate is to take the numbers from the census and calculate them against the numbers in the IRS. If they use the unemployment claim numbers there is the flaw of those who can not claim because their benefit ran out, if they use the classic source of “Manpower” it is unreliable because temp agencies call people who apply employees when they have not yet found them employment or the individual has not earned one dime. All of these numbers have been continually shifted for politics sake.

    • also with the “manpower” source, temp agencies are a revolving door recycling workers. They keep them for three months get rid of them and hire a new batch of people… you cant count that as growth.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting Anita. I actually wish these numbers were wrong. The table and all corresponding information was obtained with the help of analysts at the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. No Manpower surveys were cited, and all data was taken from census and survey data gathered by the state and verified by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics – as cited in the blog. If you note in the email from John Dipko at DWD, the info from exhausted benefits is directly from payment info – not claims – so it is the most reliable and current number they have. In addition – the entire point of the piece is to disclose the people who DID exhaust, or were denied benefits – the numbers cited here are completely outside the “unemployed” data – which count the numbers collecting benefits. That’s the point – none of the tens of thousands referred to in this piece are collecting benefits, nor are they included in the “unemployment rate.” I thought that was clear…hope that helps. These numbers are more real than the numbers Scott Walker claims – see Heather’s comment above.

  2. I absolutely LOVE these facts. Tom Barrett should use these to get the real truth in numbers out there!!! Great job.

  3. I lost my job in fall of 2010. I have been looking for a livable wage job that covers the cost of daycare for my two kids but have not had any success. My unemployment is exhausted. I am no longer counted in percentage of unemployed in the state….and I know I am one of many in the same situation.

    • Sorry for your situation, Heather. I hope you find something soon…until people stop denying the reality of what Scott Walker’s (and others like him) economic policies mean, this will continue. Continue to tell your story, and VOTE.

  4. Please hand deliver these figures to the Barrett campaign. I believe these are the most accurate ones around. You can’t just go by the Unemployment Compensations figures..The people who have exhausted their compensation are not accounted for. And just talking about jobs created doesn’t address this problem.

    Likewise, are these jobs created a living wage? I’m betting most are not.

  5. I have yet to see anyone from the Barrett campaign or the media make the connection between DWD’s attempt to deny benefits to a “significant” number of unemployed workers last month (see link, below) and the recent “excitement” about last months supposedly lower numbers of unemployed workers. It would seem plausible (this IS the FitzWalkers, after all!) that there is a correlation here made possible ONLY by politicizing the DWD in illegal fashion and by very cruelly denying families unemployment benefits for purpose of manufacturing bogus stats to make them “favorable” and campaign friendly – able to fit within a predetermined campaign narrative that declares “It’s Working!” It is, after all, quite difficult to explain any other way the lower UC numbers in relation to the dismal jobs creation numbers. And we’ve already witnessed just how far Walker will go to acquire “friendly stats” in his tortured manipulation and premature release of jobs creation raw data in place of commonly accepted and reliable DOL stats.

    I am desperate to see someone follow up with this. Can you pursue it? Is there someone who can get access to Walker to ask about this apparently illegal use of our government agencies for his own political purpose? This apparent abuse of his position that approaches John Doe proportions needs to be spread widely.

    SIDE NOTE: I was especially interested to see the rollout of the Walker attack on Barrett about the crime stats issue. Their particular complaint seems so petty, yet it would appear to be taken right out of the Karl Rove playbook relative to this DWD story. Preemptively go after Barrett for “cooking the books” on stats used by him and thus inoculate Walker from VERY LEGITIMATE charges of having done the same thing with the DWD stats.

    Can you PLEASE follow up with this? My intuition tells me this is a potentially HUGE story.

    http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/152148125.html?_escaped_fragment_=page%3D3&pageSize=10&sort=newestfirst#!page=3&pageSize=10&sort=newestfirst

  6. Maybe you guys should be concerned with the way President Obama has distorted the unemployment numbers. Funny that you only try to point out issues when it comes to a republican but Obama is much more blatant but it’s okay because he is a lib. I hope for Wisconsin that Walker wins again so he can continue lower expenses. It’s time we gut the bloated unions and stop the extortion the union leaders get away with.

    • You must have a crystal ball…those numbers don’t get released until AFTER the recall election – precisely why Walker released them early, knowing they couldn’t be verified.

      Nice try.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s