MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin added just 11,590 private sector jobs in 2016, good for a growth rate of 0.5 percent according to data released Friday by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.
Those numbers mark the slowest job growth of any year since Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) took office, and is based on data that comes from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW).
Gov. Walker has referred to the QCEW numbers as the most accurate data available in the past, because it is based on survey of 96 percent of all employers in the state.
Contributing to the slower growth in 2016 was a decline in manufacturing jobs. Wisconsin suffered a loss of 3,776 jobs in the state's second-largest industry.
"There's limited growth in the state for a number of reasons. There's high-end growth in places like Madison and the computer sector that's doing well," said Tim Smeeding, an economist at UW-Madison who noted 2016's flat job growth in the Wisconsin Poverty Report released earlier this week. "Manufacturing employment has been dropping in this country for 40 years. Other jobs in other industries - there aren't enough startups - there's not enough going on."
The QCEW report also shows the state saw a 0.6 percent drop in wages last year.
A spokesperson for Gov. Walker told 27 News the new data doesn't tell the whole story on Wisconsin's jobs situation.
"Our biggest challenge isn't creating jobs, it's finding people to fill them," wrote Tom Evenson in a statement. "Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is 3.2%, the best it’s been since 2000, and more people are working than ever before. We’ve seen a strong ramp up in private sector job growth so far in 2017."
Prior to 2016, the lowest previous number of jobs added for a single year during the Walker administration was 28,452 in 2013.
Wisconsin had averaged a private sector job creation total of 34,032 per year for Gov. Walker's first five years in office.
Wisconsin has now added a total of 179,820 jobs in the first six years of Gov. Walker's tenure, still short of the 250,000 he originally promised to create during his first term.
"Throughout his two terms, Gov. Scott Walker focused on giving massive tax giveaways to millionaires and out-of-state corporations - six years later we're seeing the worst job-creation figures under his tenure," Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning said on Friday. "Democrats know that Wisconsin families deserve a chance to pursue the American Dream, the same failed policies from Gov. Walker only stand to help a select few, but Wisconsinites need an economy that works for them all - not just those at the very top."