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U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan blasted Gov. Scott Walker’s ability to keep his No.1 campaign promise during the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s annual convention.
Pocan, D-Madison, attacked Walker and Republican lawmakers on job growth and other issues during his 15-minute speech, at one point focusing on the governor’s failed 2010 campaign promise to add 250,000 private-sector jobs within his first term.
"Seven years later, (Scott Walker) has not hit his first campaign promise of creating 250,000 jobs," Pocan said halfway through his June 2, 2017 speech.
The convention took place as state Democrats seek to ramp up support among its base before the 2018 mid-term elections.
Walker is expected to be on the ballot again, seeking a third term. So the promise is likely to come up again … and again.
Here, we’ll briefly revisit Walker’s original promise, and see where the jobs tally currently stands.
In 2010, Walker first sought the governor’s office on the promise that he would bring 250,000 private-sector jobs to Wisconsin by the end of his first term.
"(Scott Walker will) get government out of the way of employers ... who will then help Wisconsin create 250,000 jobs by 2015, and as we create those new jobs, we will be able to add 10,000 new businesses," his campaign said at the time.
For the years 2011 through 2014, Wisconsin added 130,153 private-sector jobs, meaning Walker fell short of his first-term promise by about 100,000 jobs, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.
For this tally, we used the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which surveys nearly all state businesses, to get the most accurate picture for Walker's years in office. We made comparisons using the fourth quarter reports from the QCEW.
On the Walk-O-Meter, which we use to track the governor’s campaign promises, we rated Walker’s pledge as a Promise Broken when economists said in September 2014 that it was impossible to reach his the target by the end of his first term.
The picture since
Wisconsin’s economy has continued to add jobs throughout Walker’s second term, but at a much slower pace.
The fourth quarter numbers for 2015 and 2016 from the BLS show Wisconsin added 38,077 and 11,548 jobs respectively. The 2016 growth numbers were the worst during Walker’s tenure and the worst since the economy rebounded after the 2008-’09 recession.
In total, Wisconsin has added a total of 179,778 private sector jobs during Walker’s near seven years as governor, which puts him 70,000 short of the pledged 250,000 new jobs.
Pocan spokesman David Kolovson said in an email that the congressman’s claim was based on a March 12, 2017 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story, which stated the governor’s promise "remains elusive."
The Journal Sentinel story listed the total number of jobs under Walker as 185,208, which differs from the total offered here because that article was published before the BLS released final numbers covering the end of 2016.
Walker spokesman Tom Evenson also pointed to the same story and Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development numbers, saying in email "we don’t have anything to add."
"Wisconsin’s business climate has consistently improved from one of the worst in the nation to one of the best under Governor Walker, and our state’s economy is in the best shape it’s been in 16 years," Evenson said quoted as saying in the March story. "We’ve seen more people employed than ever before, wages are up, and Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate continues to be one of the best in the country."
And yet, the topic of job creation under Walker lingers.
President Donald Trump ran on the platform of being a jobs president, famously saying "I’ll be the greatest jobs president God ever created."
In a June 13, 2017 visit to Wisconsin, President Donald Trump hinted at a major manufacturer locating to Wisconsin.
The Journal Sentinel reported on June 15 that Foxconn, a Taiwanese company that assembles Apple’s iPhones and other electronics, is considering Wisconsin as the site for a 1,000-acre manufacturing plant, which could generate thousands of jobs.
At the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s state convention, Pocan said, "Seven years later, (Scott Walker) has not hit his first campaign promise of creating 250,000 jobs."
Pocan is right to say Walker hasn’t hit his first campaign promise.
In 2014, we rated Walker’s campaign pledge as a Promise Broken. The number of jobs created still falls short of that promise.
We rate Pocan’s statement True.
State Democratic convention, video of speeches, June 2, 2017 (U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan at 2:39).
Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, Fourth quarter of 2010 through 2016
News story, "Gov. Scott Walker's promise to create 250,000 jobs in Wisconsin remains elusive", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 12, 2017
PolitiFact story, "Walk-O-Meter: Create 250,000 new jobs," PolitiFact Wisconsin, Sept. 18, 2014
News story, "Donald Trump bashes Obamacare and hints at major firm locating in Wisconsin," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 13, 2017
News story, "Foxconn eyes Wisconsin for iPhone assembly plant," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 14, 2017
News release, "BLS Data: Wisconsin Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.9 Percent, Lowest Since January 2001," Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, March 9, 2017.
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