Friday, May 25, 2012

The Problems with Scott Walker's Unverified Jobs Numbers

There are several problems with Scott Walker's new unverified claim of a net increase of jobs during his term: the numbers haven't been verified, there's no proof, they're not consistent with trends and verified data, and Walker released the unverified numbers with conspicuously perfect timing.

The biggest bipartisan complaint with Walker is the significant job losses Wisconsin has suffered since Walker took office, more than any other state in the nation (most states have gained jobs). According to verified numbers by the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Wisconsin lost 33,900 private sector jobs. If you count public sector jobs, Wisconsin lost far more jobs.

You wouldn't trust your safety on an airplane if critical safety checks weren't verified. Why would you trust other unverified work, i.e., Walker's unverified jobs numbers? How can anyone trust unverified numbers when it comes to such a critical decision.

Walker has not publicly released the raw data. So, there is no way to verify the numbers until the U.S. Dept. of Labor does, and their verification won't be finished until after the recall election June 5th. There's no actual proof that Walker's numbers are accurate, and no way to get proof until after Walker's recall election.

If Walker's unverified numbers are accurate, the numbers from the U.S. Dept. of Labor would have to be very inaccurate for nearly 12 consecutive months. The difference between the verified numbers and Walker's is 57,200 jobs. The unverified state numbers that Walker cites has never deviated so far from the verified numbers from the U.S. Dept. of Labor. So, the probability that Walker's unverified numbers are accurate is very low.

The unemployment rate has gone down, but experts attribute this to people who can no longer claim unemployment benefits and have given up on getting a job. Such people are not counted as unemployed, and so can skew the numbers if too many people are without jobs for too long. So, just because the unemployment rate goes down does not mean the economy has more jobs, and likely doesn't given all of the verified data.

Walker had no problem using the numbers from the U.S. Dept. of Labor. He touted the numbers early last year before we began bleeding jobs. However, it would behoove Walker to release conflicting data showing an increase in jobs instead, especially less than 3 weeks before a statistically tied recall election, even if they turn out to be inaccurate after the election.

Wisconsin has never publicly released this data before last week. Up until now, Wisconsin waited for the U.S. Dept. of Labor to release the numbers after they verify them. Walker released the unverified numbers a day before the U.S. Dept. of Labor was expected and did release new verified job numbers for April showing a loss of 6,200 private sector jobs in the month. The same day Walker released his unverified numbers, his campaign released an ad displaying the Journal Sentinel headline of that day touting his new unverified jobs numbers. Clearly, Walker was hoping to combat his horrible job record and offset the coming negative news of continued bleeding.

While the timing doesn't prove Walker cooked the numbers for political purposes, it doesn't help Walker's trustworthiness.

We have no way of knowing whether Walker cooked the numbers, and we have no reason to believe he hasn't cooked the numbers. Walker, the Republicans, and the rich have a lot to gain and lose with this election, and we know Walker and the Republicans are willing to do just about anything from breaking their own laws to hiring people that break campaign finance laws.

The core problem is that there simply is no way to verify Walker's numbers. If Walker wants us to believe his new numbers, he must provide the raw data so that his numbers can be independently verified. As taxpayers, we pay for that data, and deserve to see it upon request. Otherwise, we'll have to depend upon the data that we know have been verified.

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