State Loses Jobs in Latest Report
At a time when Wisconsin's jobs statistics are under scrutiny as never before, preliminary data released Thursday showed that Wisconsin lost an estimated 6,200 private-sector jobs in April.
This is the second consecutive month of private-sector job losses in the state, according to the report from the state Department of Workforce Development.
Meanwhile, again according to the preliminary data, Wisconsin's state government added 500 jobs while the state's cities and counties shed jobs. Adding the net job gains in the government sector to the net losses in the private sector, the state lost an estimated total of 5,900 non-farm jobs in April from March.
The state's unemployment rate, which comes from a separate monthly survey of households rather than employers, declined to 6.7% in April from 6.8% in March, the preliminary data show.
Thursday's numbers come amid an unprecedented level of skepticism about the validity and reliability of the monthly state jobs report.
Earlier in the week, Gov. Scott Walker released fourth-quarter employment data - not due for formal release until June 28 - showing Wisconsin actually added more than 23,000 public and private sector jobs last year.
It was an unusual step for Walker because the numbers had not been fully vetted by federal authorities at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The new figures from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages - which is collected from 95% of the state's private and public sector employers - contrast sharply with more than a year's worth of monthly employment surveys, which suggested that Wisconsin lost 33,900 jobs last year, ranking it last among the 50 states.
The census figures are considered by economists the more reliable of the two. Unlike the Quarterly Census figures cited by Walker, the monthly estimates released Thursday are based on surveys of only 3.5% to 5% of the state's businesses each month and then extrapolated statewide under a mathematical model that's routinely prone to error. While the accuracy of the monthly data has been called into question in the past, they were never shown to be off by a magnitude of 57,200 in a single year.
Reggie Newson, Walker's secretary of the Department of Workforce Development, has argued all week that other economic indicators, such as tax revenue or the number of newly unemployed filing for unemployment benefits, have shown that the economy is rebuilding even at a time when the monthly employment data showed deterioration.
"Job creators and job seekers rely on accurate workforce data when they decide to seek employment or grow their businesses in Wisconsin," Newson said in a statement. "When a highly volatile data series diverts from other indicators of job growth - such as fewer Unemployment Insurance claims and increasing state sales and income tax collections - it creates a misleading picture that's out of line with other indicators that show Wisconsin's economy is headed in the right direction."
The Department of Workforce development also announced it will hold a conference call with reporters at 2:30 p.m.
April's state numbers were expected to be weak after a disappointing set of the national jobs data for the same month, which were released two weeks earlier.
Even before the numbers were released, Walker indicated in an interview with the Journal Sentinel in Madison that they were not a surprise.
"We expected when the national numbers came out and they were down from what we hoped, that usually has an effect on us as well," Walker said Thursday morning.