Wisconsin adds 900 private-sector jobs in May (UPDATE)
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin added 900 private-sector jobs last month as the state’s unemployment rate held steady, the state Department of Workforce Development reported Thursday.
Unemployment in May was 6.8 percent, up slightly from 6.7 percent the previous month but still below the national rate of 8.2 percent.
The increase in the unemployment rate is actually a positive sign this time of year because it means more people are actively looking for work, said Nelse Grundvig, labor market information director for the department. The rate increased because the number of people actually employed didn’t keep pace with those who re-entered the job market, he said.
The preliminary monthly job numbers reported by the department are based on a survey of about 3.5 percent of Wisconsin businesses.
Based on that data, 3,200 jobs have been added since Gov. Scott Walker took office in 2011. He has promised to create 250,000 jobs by 2015.
His progress toward that goal was a major part of the campaign to recall him that ended with a convincing 7-point Walker win last week.
Walker argued that the monthly data was not the best measurement of the state’s economy and job situation.
He instead pointed to a quarterly census of 96 percent of employers that he said showed Wisconsin actually added about 23,600 jobs in 2011, rather than losing 33,900 jobs as the monthly data said.
Walker released that data ahead of when it’s due to be published June 28 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, raising accusations from Democrats that he was lying.
Based on the number for 2011 that Walker said is more accurate, combined with the monthly data for 2012 so far, about 36,500 jobs have been added since Walker took office. That pace would lead to about 103,000 jobs over four years, less than half of what Walker promised.
Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie had no immediate comment on the latest release.
Department of Workforce Development spokesman John Dipko cautioned against reading too much into the monthly numbers, saying they are nothing more than “indicators and pieces to an overall puzzle.”
Previously, Walker’s administration trumpeted the figures when they showed growth in the economy. But Walker backed away from emphasizing the monthly numbers during the campaign when the quarterly data showed a dramatically improved job picture that bolstered his chances at surviving the recall.
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