“A Total, Utter Failure”

Apr 13, 2014

As Scott Walker prepares to kick off his reelection bid, on pace to get just halfway towards meeting his central campaign promise to create 250,000 new jobs, a Wisconsin economist is skewering Walker’s record on jobs as a “total, utter failure.”

In a blistering editorial in the Oshkosh Northwestern, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh economics professor Kevin McGee explains the genesis of Walker’s central 250,000 jobs promise and the justification for judging Walker on his record on job growth, despite Walker’s excuses that everything from Obamacare to the weather kept him from getting anywhere close to success.

The 250,000 jobs promise came from a combination of normal economic growth, about 119,000 jobs over four years, and recovering the 137,000 jobs lost in the Great Recession; hardly anything “spectacular,” McGee notes, just let the economy get back on track, and “take the credit for it.”

Unfortunately, despite Walker’s rhetoric that his “reforms” are working, “there’s no clear evidence that any “growth policies” that state governments adopt have any real effect,” McGee writes. “But the rhetoric is exactly the point. Almost everything Walker has done as governor – the union busting, the tax breaks for the well connected – have been justified because “it will create jobs.” So yes, since that’s the standard Walker has consistently raised, how well he’s created jobs is a standard he should be held to.”

But putting aside judging Walker on the 250,000 jobs Wisconsin would have gained with a normal economic recovery, we should hold Walker to the standard of doing at least as well on job growth as other states in the Midwest, according to McGee, who notes that, “by that standard, Walker has been a complete, utter failure. Because over the last 2 and three quarter years, Wisconsin has created roughly 45,000 fewer jobs than if it had kept up with our neighbor states. That is, Wisconsin has a 45,000 job gap (for the details online, google “wis job gap”).”

McGee concludes:

“And no, Gov. Walker, you can’t blame that on Jim Doyle. In Doyle’s last two years as governor, the job gap went from roughly zero in December 2008 to about 30,000 jobs a year later. But then the outlook improved, with the job gap shrinking to about 10,000 jobs by the time he left office. By the end of Doyle’s term, we’d recovered almost 20 percent of the jobs we’d lost, better than all of our neighboring states.

“But then Walker took over, busted the unions, and the gap has steadily grown, to 20,000 jobs in December 2011, then 30,000 jobs by December 2012, and then 45,000 jobs last September. Since Walker took over, we’ve recovered only an additional 42 percent of our lost jobs, nearly last among our neighbors.

“So should Walker be judged on his job creation record? Yes he should – as a total, utter failure.”

Read the editorial in its entirety here.