MADISON, Wis. (AP) — New jobs numbers published Thursday are in line with those Gov. Scott Walker released early, just before his recall election, but they also show that Wisconsin was among the states with the worst records of job creation last year.
Walker caused a ruckus in May when he released Wisconsin's data before it had been vetted by the
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which published the numbers Thursday. While the final numbers were within 16 of what Walker's Department of Workforce Development said they would be, compared with other states Wisconsin lagged in creating jobs during the governor's first year in office.
The bureau's numbers show Wisconsin was tied with two other states for the eighth lowest rate of job growth last year at 0.7 percent. Wisconsin's growth rate was last among all its neighboring states and half the national rate of 1.4 percent.
Walker defended the growth of 19,551 public and private sector jobs in 2011, saying that was positive given losses of about 100,000 jobs during the recession that preceded his election as governor in 2010. Walker argued that uncertainty caused by the recall campaign was freezing employers from adding jobs, but on Thursday he predicted there would be positive growth in the second half of the year.
Walker promised in the 2010 campaign, and reiterated during the recall, that 250,000 private sector jobs would be created under his leadership by 2015. At the current pace, only about 78,000 public and private jobs would be created.
Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca of Kenosha used the bureau's report to blast Walker's job creation efforts.
"However you slice it, Wisconsin is far behind the rest of the country on job creation and once again I want to urge Wisconsin leaders to focus on aggressive action," Barca said in a statement.
Barca said that Republicans focused on "extreme, right-wing social issues" last year instead of creating jobs.
"My plea is to stop the hyper-focus on numbers and come to the table and work in a bipartisan manner on creating good-paying jobs and closing the skills gap in our state," Barca said.
The numbers released Thursday are based on a census of 96 percent of Wisconsin businesses, a far more comprehensive look at job creation in the state than monthly estimates that only survey about 3 percent of employers. The monthly data showed Wisconsin lost about 33,900 jobs in 2011, the worst in the country.
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