Days after state officials cheered a revision to the federal jobs estimates, those same numbers are showing Wisconsin still near the bottom in its slow recovery from the recession — and heading in the wrong direction.
The Badger State ranks 44th nationally in job growth over the past two years and behind all neighboring states, according to updated figures released Monday from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The new numbers, based on the most accurate current measures available, show Wisconsin with an estimated 2,790,000 non-farm positions as of January 2013 — up 44,600 jobs or 1.6 percent since January 2011 when Gov. Scott Walker took office.
By comparison, Indiana ranked No. 9 with a 3.8 percent job growth rate over the past two years; Minnesota was No. 10 with 3.7 percent growth; Michigan was No. 12 at 3.6 percent; Iowa was No. 24 at 2.9 percent and Illinois No. 30 at 2.3 percent job growth.
The job numbers in Wisconsin have taken on added political significance because of Gov. Walker’s much-publicized vow to create 250,000 new jobs during his four-year term, in part through tax cuts and deregulation measures.
Our Capital Times interactive database tracking job growth in Wisconsin has been updated to reflect the latest numbers.
The latest BLS figures show Wisconsin is actually losing ground compared to other states since the recession began in December 2007. Going back four years, the state actually ranks a more respectable 30th in job growth since then. Those numbers also suggest Wisconsin didn’t lose jobs as quickly as other states during the recession but is now adding them more slowly.
On Thursday, state Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson had issued a statement critical of the BLS, saying that the federal record-gathering agency has been dramatically underestimating the number of jobs in Wisconsin.
Newson then applauded the fact that the annual “benchmarking” process — where estimates drawn from surveys from 3 percent of employers are checked against actual unemployment insurance data from 97 percent of employers — showed Wisconsin with 67,100 more jobs as of December than previously thought.
But other states also had their figures updated by the BLS as well, leaving Wisconsin still lagging most other states in creating new jobs.
North Dakota leads the nation in job growth over the past two years, with its fossil-fueled energy sector helping that state to a 13.3 growth rate over that period. Utah, Texas, Colorado and Tennessee are the rest of the top five.
The worst state for job growth is Maine at 0.4 percent, with New Mexico, Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas and Pennsylvania all doing worse than Wisconsin over the past two years.
In addition to lagging on job growth, Wisconsin also saw its unemployment rate jump to 7 percent in January, up from 6.7 percent in December. The state added an estimated 12,400 private-sector jobs in January but lost an estimated 10,600 government jobs in the month, a net gain of 1,800 new non-farm jobs.
The national rate fell to 7.8 percent in February, down from 7.9 percent in January. The state unemployment data for February has not been released yet.