The good news is Wisconsin is gaining jobs. The bad news: it's not happening as fast as most other states.
Wisconsin added 35,381 private sector jobs between June of 2011 and June of 2012. That amounts to a 1.5% increase in jobs. The data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which comes from surveys of 96% of employers. Those are the numbers the state Department of Workforce Development has said are more accurate than the monthly estimates.
The data puts Wisconsin near the bottom of the list in job creation. The state ranks 42nd in the country and is behind all of our neighboring states.
"Jobs have to be our number one priority going forward," said State Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay). He says the state needs to focus on education, specifically on training workers for the jobs that are out there.
"You have to concentrate on manufacturing jobs, jobs in the health care industry and to have the skilled workers to fill those jobs so companies aren't leaving," Hansen said.
FOX 11 wanted to interview Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) for this story but his spokesman said he didn't have the time. The spokesman did send FOX 11 a statement saying "Wisconsin is turning around" but there's "a ways to go." The statement also pointed out, the jobs numbers cover June of 2011 to June of 2012, the height of the recall elections in the state.
That's pretty much what the governor told FOX 11 last month during an extended interview on jobs. During the interview, Walker blamed the slow pace of job creation on several factors, including the protests at the capitol and the contentious recall elections.
"Anything that adds uncertainty makes it difficult, particularly for small business owners, to add more jobs," Walker said on December 7, 2012. "My hope now that that's settled that you'll start to see acceleration, particularly of small businesses creating jobs in this state but we've got a long ways to go."
Hansen says the argument goes both ways, since he and two other Democratic senators also faced recalls.
"I think it's a weak excuse," Hansen said. "He is the governor and he should lead and job creation should be the number one focus."
But the governor says the state is heading in the right direction although he admits there's a lot more work to be done.
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