Shortly after taking office in January, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker set up a rivalry with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, by inviting Illinois companies to relocate north of the border. Walker promised a more “business-friendly” environment.
But October statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics give Quinn the upper hand in the competition for job growth. While Wisconsin payroll numbers dropped 9,700 from September to October – the most in the nation – Illinois added 30,000 jobs – the country’s best record.
The only sector in which Wisconsin posted job gains in October was the leisure and hospitality sector, where most jobs are low-paying. Declines were in higher-paying sectors, including construction, manufacturing, financial, business and health services, education and government.
From its low point of 2,723,600 jobs in January 2010, Wisconsin has added 64,800 jobs. Illinois has gained 108,100 jobs since its nadir of 5,580,500 in December 2009.
Walker campaigned on a promise to create a gain of 250,000 jobs during his first term, but his administration has lowered its projection. So far this year, Wisconsin has gained just 20,100 jobs.
In July, in advance of the state’s first round of recall elections, Walker staged an unusual news conference to announce that Wisconsin had gained a net total of 9,500 jobs in June. He boasted that the number was the best in the country, claiming it represented half of the net total of all jobs created nationwide that month.
Walker’s claim was touted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and right-wing talk radio hosts, who said it was evidence the governor’s crippling of public unions, corporate tax cuts and reductions in spending on education had bolstered the state’s economy.
But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revised its July story today, saying that during his news conference Walker “left out the fact that his office had been told in an internal report that the monthly numbers were ‘very questionable’ and ‘suspect.’”
Here’s what the newspaper now says about Walker’s previous claim:
“The unusual announcement was made in the run-up to pivotal Senate recall elections last summer that were seen as a referendum on Walker’s policies.
“But three days before the announcement, Walker’s office received a report from the state labor department that raised serious concerns about the numbers. The PowerPoint presentation was released to the Journal Sentinel under the state’s open records law.
“Results, while (federal Bureau of Labor Statistics) approved, are very questionable,” reads the first line of the report.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel endorsed Walker and has largely supported his agenda on its editorial page.