Walker blames jobs report on politics

ASHWAUBENON — Gov. Scott Walker, on his third stop in two weeks in the Green Bay area, said Thursday that recall-election politics are responsible for the state’s drop in private-sector job creation.

A report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released Thursday shows the state is ranked 44th in the nation for creating private-sector jobs. The data, which covers a year-long period that ended in September, shows a recent steady decline. Wisconsin ranked 42nd for the year that ended the previous quarter, and 37th in the quarter before that.

Wisconsin ranked 42nd in the previous quarter, and 37th in the quarter before that.

While some critics blame Walker for the negative report, he said last year’s recall election created uncertainty for private employers, and that the six-month delay for the figures does not reflect the current state of Wisconsin’s economy.

“The first two years, until June of last year, we had recalls, protests and recalls on top of that, so a lot of uncertainty,” he said, “Employers are trying to to catch up from all that uncertainty that happened out there because of some of the protests and recalls.”

Walker was in Green Bay to push manufacturing initiatives in his proposed budget. He spoke at M&M Tool and Mold, 3300 Commodity Lane, a plastic injection mold product manufacturer.

It was Walker’s third stop in the area in two weeks; during visits last week, he discussed expansion of the school voucher program and gave a similar push for manufacturing at a De Pere manufacturer.

The governor’s budget proposal includes $630 billion in tax relief for individuals and employers, and $132 million in workforcedevelopment.

“Now we’ve shown we have resources set aside for tax relief … property taxes have gone down in the last two years,” Walker said. “There’s more resources to help manufacturers when it comes to production and … workforce development. It will help accelerate the rate of growth, particularly in the next year.”

The jobs report is based on a census of 96 percent of all American non-farm employers, public and private.

“We need to focus out on jobs,” Walker said. “We need to step it up even more … we still need to grow at a faster pace. (We have) gained jobs, the rankings are there on a volume basis, but Illinois and Wisconsin — Illinois’ unemployment is two points higher. We’re still better off than our neighbors.”

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is 7 percent; in Illinois, it’s 9 percent. The labor report shows other Midwestern states are outperforming Wisconsin in job creation. Indiana ranked 11th in the quarterly report, Michigan 13th, Ohio 24th and Illinois 27th.

Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, blasted the governor in a statement, saying he was responsible for the state’s declining ranking.

The governor’s political ambition and adherence to a rigid, right-wing ideology puts Wisconsin in a “race to the bottom,” Hansen said.

“While the governor is flying around the country, campaigning for president and writing his book, thousands of Wisconsin families are suffering through no fault of their own, struggling to get by in an economy he created and which is among the very worst in the entire nation,” Hansen said. “It is time for him to stay home and do the work he was elected to do: create jobs.”

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.
—published in Green Bay Press-Gazette, March 2013

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