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By Dave Umhoefer October 9, 2014

Walker sticks to claim on Midwest jobs growth

On Aug. 25, 2014 the Scott Walker campaign launched a TV ad that  featured the governor saying this about the July employment numbers:

"Well, the latest job numbers are in and Wisconsin created more private-sector jobs than Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Ohio, and Illinois. That means we ranked third in the Midwest."

We rated that Mostly True. The ranking among the 10 states was right, but only if you use the raw number of jobs added instead of the more revealing percentage growth.

Well, now that summer has turned to fall, there’s a new batch of monthly jobs numbers out, with August being the latest month available.

And a new Walker TV ad makes the same claim comparing midwestern states over the last 12 months:

"The truth? In the last year, Wisconsin ranked third in Midwest job growth."

Is the ranking still right?


The ad sent us back to the best source of federal employment data, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Walker is using the monthly data for his comparison. This time around, Wisconsin has dropped a spot.

Wisconsin ranks fourth out of 10, not third, both in raw jobs growth and in percentage change from August 2013 to August 2014.

In the new rankings, based on preliminary August numbers, Wisconsin (1.2 percent growth for the year) trailed North Dakota (No. 1 rank nationally with 5.3 percent growth), Indiana and Minnesota on percentage change.

Same story on the increase in the raw number of jobs over the year: Wisconsin came in fourth among 10 states.

That put Wisconsin’s rank nationally at 32nd.

In the new ad, Walker discloses in an on-screen graphic that he’s using the July-to-July figures.

But that text runs counter to his spoken claim of "in the last year."

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Defending the new ad, the Walker campaign said that the July data is final, revised estimates in contrast to the preliminary August data.

But we note that in the campaign’s earlier ad, Walker didn’t hesitate to use the preliminary July data and use it to round out the "latest" one year period when it showed the ranking was third.

Rating switch

Walker himself clearly knew better.

On Sept. 19, the governor sent out this tweet from his personal account after the new numbers came out:

"WI is 4th in the Midwest for private sector job creation & % growth (CES BLS Aug 2013 - Aug 2014)."

His campaign, which is airing new TV ads frequently, had plenty of time to absorb the August jobs report (released Sept. 18, 2014) before putting out his new ad (released Oct. 8, 2014).

We’ve taken a similarly dim view of numerical maneuvering by Democrat Mary Burke’s campaign.

In August, we rated True a Burke claim that Wisconsin was "dead last" in the Midwest based on a three-year time span coinciding with the first three years of Walker’s term.

But when Burke made a similar statement in September and framed it around the latest numbers showing the drop, we rated her claim False -- a rating Walker highlights in his new ad.

She cited accurate data -- Wisconsin ranked last in the Midwest from March 2011 to March 2014. But that period was out of sync with the start of Walker’s term.

In her claims, Burke has been using quarterly jobs data, which is more reliable than the monthly data but lags significantly.

Notable in that rating: For the most recent 12-month period by that measure, Wisconsin no longer ranked last of 10 states. It ranked 8th of 10 states.

Our rating

In a new TV ad, Walker says "the truth" is that "in the last year, Wisconsin ranked third in midwest job growth."

That’s old news. The updated ranking is fourth, closer to middle of the pack, something the governor knew before his ad aired.

We rate the claim False.

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

Our Sources

Scott Walker campaign ad, "The Facts," Oct. 8, 2014

Journal Sentinel analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics, State and Metro Area Employment Hours and Earnings data for 2013 and 2014

Emails with Alleigh Marre, Walker campaign spokeswoman, Oct. 8, 2014

Email with Stephanie Wilson, Burke campaign spokeswoman, Oct. 8, 2014

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Walker sticks to claim on Midwest jobs growth

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