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By James B. Nelson October 8, 2014

Mary Burke says job growth has gotten worse every year of Scott Walker’s term

Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke wasted little time getting to Topic A -- Wisconsin job growth under Gov. Scott Walker -- during a Wisconsin Public Radio interview Sept. 29, 2014.

Two and half minutes in, Burke ripped Walker for the number of jobs created in the three and a half years that he’s been in office. She then put a new spin on what is the central theme of her campaign.

"Frankly, it’s not getting any better," Burke told host Joy Cardin. "The longer he’s in office, the worse it’s getting."

She continued:  "So, 2013 job creation was worse than 2012, which was worse than 2011. And 2014 is shaping up to be the worst year ever, with the loss of 4,300 jobs in August alone."

Burke’s repeated this claim, most recently Oct. 6, 2014 in an interview on

In January 2014, we rated False a very similar claim by state Rep. Brett Hulsey (D-Madison), who failed in his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.  But that was months ago and numbers are prone to change.

Does Burke’s claim fare any better?

In a word: No.

Burke’s evidence

When asked for backup, Burke spokesman Joe Zepecki essentially repeated the candidate’s claim: "The longer he is in office the worse it gets -- 2013 was worse than 2011 and 2012. 2014 is on pace to be the worst year for job creation yet."

But he didn’t repeat it exactly.

Burke said every year has been lower than the previous year -- like walking down the stairs. Zepecki said only that 2013 was worse than both 2011 and 2012.

As support, Zepecki cited numbers for only two of the years: 33,872 jobs in 2012 and 29,723 in 2013.

That’s OK, we’ve done this math before, and here is what it showed in terms of jobs added for each year:

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2011 (Walker’s first full year in office): 29,800

2012: 33,872

2013: 29,723

So, the results show 4,072 more jobs created in 2012 (when compared with 2011), and then 4,149 fewer jobs created in 2013 (when compared with 2012). That’s not a series of steps down, but a step up and then a step down.

The figures are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ quarterly jobs count. They come from surveys of nearly all state employers and are regarded as the most accurate way of counting jobs.

Burke’s observation that 2014 is on track to be the worst of all is based on monthly BLS jobs numbers, which are prone to much wider swings. So far, through August 2014, those numbers show the state has added 8,800 jobs in 2014.

That doesn’t seem very good. But the eight-month mark has not always corresponded with the annual total.

In 2011, after eight months, the state had added a total of 900 jobs for the year, according to the monthly estimates. The final total for the year, based on the more accurate Census figures, was 29,800.

In 2012, there was a similar pattern -- minus 500 jobs after eight months, but a year-end total of 33,872.

In 2013, there was less growth. There were an estimated 26,210 jobs after eight months, and the year-end total was 29,723.

We have tracked Walker’s 2010 promise to create 250,000 private-sector jobs in his four-year term on the Walk-O-Meter. Based on lagging numbers, and dwindling time, we have rated the pledge Promise Broken. You can see an updated monthly graphic tracking the state’s jobs performance since Walker took office here.

Our rating

Burke said job creation has gotten worse each year that Scott Walker’s been governor.

The data says that’s not the case -- it’s been an up and down performance. And employers have continued to add jobs, albeit not at a strong pace.

We rate the claim False.

(Read our tipsheet on five things to watch for when you hear jobs claims)

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More by James B. Nelson

Mary Burke says job growth has gotten worse every year of Scott Walker’s term

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