UPDATE: Wisconsin quarterly job numbers improve, but still lag m - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Wisconsin quarterly job numbers improve, but still lag most Midwest states

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) show Wisconsin ranks 33rd out of 50 states, and 8th out of 10 Midwest states for private sector job growth.

Wisconsin added 28,712 private sector jobs from March 2013 through March 2014, which accounted for a growth rate of 1.3 percent.

North Dakota had the fastest growth rate in the Midwest at 3.9 percent.  Minnesota had the slowest growth rate at 0.8 percent.

The QCEW rankings are regarded as the most reliable jobs statistics, because they are compiled from information supplied by 96 percent of all employers.  But they aren't as current as other numbers, because there is a six-month lag time.

The state's job performance has been a hotly debated issue in the race for Governor.  Democratic Challenger Mary Burke has run ads citing the last set of QCEW rankings from December 2012 to December 2013, in which Wisconsin had the slowest growth rate of the ten Midwest states.  Wisconsin ranked 37th overall during that time period.

Despite another sluggish report, Governor Walker continues to push the idea that Wisconsin's glass is half-full. 

"In actual job growth, we're better than Illinois and Minnesota in job growth percentages, so we're moving up," said Gov. Walker, who also pointed out the state's unemployment rate has dropped again to 5.6 percent.  "We think we'll do even better."

In a visit to Micro Tool, a drill bit manufacturer in Janesville, the Governor emphasized that even though the growth rate isn't where he'd like it to be, its still higher than where it was when Mary Burke was Wisconsin's commerce secretary.

"As much as we faced challenges in the first year and a half, we still created more jobs in the first three years than Mary Burke did in her three years working for Jim Doyle, in fact, almost twice as many jobs were created," said Gov. Walker.

Burke served as commerce secretary from February 2005 to November of 2007.  During those three full calendar years, Wisconsin created fewer than 50,000 jobs, compared to over 90,000 during Gov. Walker's first three years in office.

The Governor insists better days are ahead, saying even his plan to make people pass a drug test before they can get welfare benefits is also tied to job creation.

"Why we would help somebody out and try to get them ready for a job, only to turn around and have them set up for failure, if they can't pass a drug test, is beyond me," said Gov. Walker.

But Governor Walker admits he can't say how the state would pay for that or prove that it could be cost effective.

"It's untested not only in that you've only had a handful of other states that have considered this, but to my knowledge, nobody has gone through the process of putting drug testing and employability skills together," said Gov. Walker.

Mary Burke's campaign sent the following statement regarding the state's job performance under Gov. Walker.

"Based on the 'gold standard' numbers released today, Wisconsin continues to lag behind on job creation under Governor Walker.  His top down approach which puts the special interests and those at the top ahead of Wisconsin's middle class has led us to dead last in the Midwest - tenth out of ten states - in private sector job creation over the last three years."

(WQOW) - Wisconsin's private sector job growth is 33rd in the nation and behind the national average. 

New numbers released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show private-sector job growth in Wisconsin grew 1.3 percent for the 12 months ending in March. The national average was over 2 percent. 

The only Midwestern states that had lower job growth than Wisconsin were Illinois, ranked 34th with 1.2 percent growth, and Minnesota, ranked 41, with 0.8 percent growth. 

The State Department of Workforce Development had a different spin on the numbers, ranking Wisconsin 22nd in the total number of new jobs added during that period. We gained more than 28,000 jobs in those 12 months.
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