Mostly True
"Job creation fell by 70 percent in Wisconsin in 2016" under Scott Walker.  

Tony Evers on Wednesday, October 4th, 2017 in a video

Jobs have grown under GOP Gov. Scott Walker, but Democrat Tony Evers says growth fell 70% in 2016

Job creation under Republican Gov. Scott Walker (left) has been on the rise, but state school superintendent Tony Evers, a Democrat who is seeking to challenge Walker in the 2018 election, claims it fell off dramatically in 2016.

In a video posted Oct. 4, 2017 in his run for governor, Tony Evers repeatedly cites Gov. Scott Walker’s failed 250,000 jobs promise -- then hits him with a new attack.

Midway into the video, an unidentified TV anchor says this in introducing a news story:

"Job creation in the state fell by an astounding 70 percent last year to the lowest level since Gov. Scott Walker took office."

After another reference to Walker’s jobs promise, from his first campaign for governor in 2010, the video replays the audio of the anchor’s words and then these words appear on the screen:

"Job creation fell by 70% in Wisconsin in 2016."

To be clear, the number of private-sector jobs in Wisconsin has increased each year Walker has been in office.

But Evers refers to the most recent annual figure that measures how fast jobs are growing.

Let’s see if he’s correct.

The promise and the race

Walker promised to create 250,000 private-sector jobs by the end of his first term. Our Walk-O-Meter, which tracks the Republican’s campaign promises, rated that pledge Promise Broken. The tally had reached only 130,000 by January 2015.

We also rated rated as True a claim that as of June 2017, Walker still was short, as the job total had reached about 180,000 at that point in his tenure.

Nevertheless, Walker survived a recall election in 2012, won re-election in 2014 and -- though he has pushed off a formal announcement of his intentions -- is widely expected to seek a third term.

Meanwhile, Evers, the state school superintendent since 2009, is among a half-dozen Democrats with active campaigns who hope to win the August 2018 primary and compete in the November 2018 general election.

Evers’ evidence

To back Evers’ claim, his campaign provided us video of the full TV news story, which was aired in May 2017 on WKOW in Madison.

The story said the increase in private-sector jobs in Wisconsin in 2016 was 70 percent lower than the increase in 2015, and that the figure was based on data given to the station by Walker’s administration. The original source of the data was the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.

We asked Walker’s campaign organization for a response and were referred to Wisconsin Republican Party spokesman Alec Zimmerman. He cited a June 2017 opinion article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, which called Wisconsin’s job growth over six years "extraordinarily strong," and told us:

For someone to talk about Wisconsin’s job growth while leaving out the fact that the state is exceeding what most economists consider to be full employment, not only ignores a critical factors but gives a very skewed impression of Wisconsin’s economy ….We aren't talking about job losses. This is about slower gains, and gains that are slower because we are at or near full employment, a good thing.

Quarterly figures

The federal quarterly figures are considered the gold standard for job counts. Although the claim we’re checking focuses on the change in 2016, the Evers video also alludes to Walker’s entire tenure. So, for perspective, we’ll show the annual figures for private-sector job growth for each year since Walker took office in January 2011 (percentages are rounded).


Annual increase in private- sector jobs in Wisconsin

Percentage change in private-sector job growth vs the previous year























So, for 2011 through 2015, the number of private-sector jobs rose by roughly 30,000 to 38,000 per year.

But in 2016, the increase was 66 percent lower than the increase in 2015 -- nearly the 70 percent figure Evers claimed.

While Evers doesn’t directly blame Walker, his video is an attack that clearly holds Walker at least partly responsible. We’ve reported in many fact checks that according to economists, a governor plays an important, but limited, role in a state’s economy, given that many factors are at play.

As for what happened in 2016, Milwaukee-area economist Brian Jacobsen told us that nationwide, the growth in private-sector jobs was 29 percent lower than the growth in 2015. He said manufacturing-heavy states such as Wisconsin lagged more, but that the pace of job growth in Wisconsin has picked up in 2017.

Andrew Reschovsky, a professor emeritus of applied economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told us Evers’ statement is technically accurate. But he said it could be stated in a more "transparent" way, such as: "The rate of private-sector job creation in Wisconsin was 66 percent lower in 2016 than in 2015" under Walker.

Our rating

Evers says: "Job creation fell by 70 percent in Wisconsin in 2016" under Walker.

He’s essentially on target in that the one-year growth in private-sector jobs in 2016 was 66 percent lower than the growth in 2015 (13,000 jobs versus 38,000 jobs) -- though it’s important to note that private-sector jobs have increased each year during Walker’s tenure, but much more slowly in 2016.

Where clarification is needed is that Walker’s performance is only one of many factors affecting job growth.

We rate Evers’ statement Mostly True.

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Mostly True
"Job creation fell by 70 percent in Wisconsin in 2016" under Scott Walker.
In a video
Wednesday, October 4, 2017