OSHKOSH — In Milwaukee early Wednesday, Governor Scott Walker announced the recent jobs numbers from the state Department of Workforce Development showing employers added thousands – not lost thousands – of public and private sector jobs in the state.
With a little less than three weeks until a recall election against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Walker says the release isn't a political move to bolster support. It's just the facts.
"The mayor of Milwaukee and his campaign supporters will talk about anything except the raw data. The raw data, no matter what you feel about the timing, no matter what you feel about the process - the facts are the facts and the facts don't lie," said Walker.
Previous numbers showed Wisconsin lost almost 34,000 jobs during the year, a number the federal labor department said was worst in the nation.
According to data the Department of Workforce Development compiled from 96 percent of the state's employers, the recent job shows the previous numbers were off by more than 57,000 jobs.
The previous numbers, based off of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, came from small monthly employment surveys by the state called the Current Employee Survey.
It is a monthly statistical survey of a small percentage of Wisconsin employers totaling about 5,000.
The DWD says the new numbers come from comparing December of 2010 through December of 2011 and reflect 160,000 employers counting their jobs and reporting them to the state.
At a campaign stop in Oshkosh, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says he's not buying the governor's new numbers.
"It depends on if you believe in the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus - because nobody believes that you're going to come up with a brand new set of numbers 20 days before the election," said Barrett.
So what do the numbers mean?
Economists say the numbers have to be looked at closely.
"They're both good quality surveys, they're just looking at different things," said Kevin Quinn, an economics professor at St. Norbert College in De Pere.
Quinn says the smaller survey takes into account all people in the state who have or don't have jobs, regardless of where they work - like across state lines.
He says the larger, newest employer report is meant to determine the number of jobs being created, but doesn't take into account jobs not covered by unemployment insurance.
Also, one person with more than one job can be counted more than once.
So Quinn says the numbers depend on how you want to look at it.
"There's this old saying about 3 blind men are trying to describe an elephant. One's holding the trunk, the other one's holding the tail and the other one's rubbing the side. They're going to see and say different things, but it's the same elephant."
Quinn says what will be telling is how Wisconsin's numbers will stack up against the rest of the country.
Those numbers are expected to be released in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' national report on June 28.
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