The rate of job growth in Wisconsin improved in 2012, although new federal figures show the Badger State continues to lag behind the national rate and much of the Midwest. Wisconsin’s private sector jobs grew by 1.4 percent last year, according to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. During the same period, the national rate grew by 2.3 percent.
Overall, Wisconsin was ranked 33rd in the nation for private sector job growth in 2012. The report shows Wisconsin added 32,282 private sector jobs last year. When public sector jobs are factored in, the state saw growth of 1.2 percent last year, putting Wisconsin at 31st in the nation. The national average for the time period was 1.9 percent.
The state lagged behind most of its neighbors in private sector growth, with Michigan, Minnesota, and Iowa coming out ahead. Illinois was just a fraction of a percent behind Wisconsin in private sector job growth.
State Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson said the numbers show “Wisconsin’s economy is growing and employment opportunities are steadily improving under Governor Walker’s leadership. After losing 134,000 private sector jobs in the four years prior to his administration, it is good news for Wisconsin that our friends and neighbors are getting back to work.”
In a statement, Governor Walker said “Wisconsin’s private sector job growth is the best two-year gain under any administration in over a decade. Today, over 62,000 Wisconsin moms, dads, and grandparents are able to make ends meet. Whether it’s increased wages, increased manufacturing jobs, increased revenue, or lower unemployment rate, all economic indicators show Wisconsin is creating jobs.”
Democrats were quick to criticize the numbers. Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate accused Walker of failing to come through on his number one campaign promise, while Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said that, while he’s pleased to see a slight uptick in the job ranking, “Wisconsin still has a long way to go.”
Governor Scott Walker campaigned on a promise of helping the private sector add 250,000 jobs during his first four year term in office. When combined with numbers from 2011, the state added 62,082 during the last two years, well behind the pace needed to meet his goal.
The Quarterly Census is based on reports from 96 percent of employers, making it widely considered the most accurate information released on job creation in both the public and private sectors.