By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Gov. Scott Walker’s administration reported Thursday that Wisconsin added more than 62,000 private sector jobs over the first two years of his term, less than a quarter of the 250,000 he promised to create by 2015.
The Department of Workforce Development released the new figures, which can’t be compared to other states until next month. Walker released the figures before they are published officially on June 27 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Critics have said the state’s performance can’t be adequately measured until the yearly numbers can be compared with other states. The most current ranking, comparing jobs created between September 2011 and September 2012, showed Wisconsin was 44th in the nation.
Walker’s administration also released new monthly figures for April, which are based on different, less reliable surveys. Those figures showed the unemployment rate for the month was 7.1 percent but 22,600 private sector jobs were lost between March and April.
John Koskinen, the Department of Revenue’s chief economist, said the monthly numbers can’t be trusted because the survey was done during a week of heavy rain and below-normal temperatures when a lot of people in the construction and tourism industries weren’t working. Also, there was no corresponding spike in unemployment claims to back up the reported drop in jobs, he said.
While the yearly numbers are based on a census of nearly every business in the state, the monthly numbers come from a survey of just 3.5 percent of employers.
Even so, Democrats accused Walker of spinning the numbers to his advantage. They have repeatedly blasted Walker’s job-creation performance and it’s expected to be a central issue in his 2014 re-election campaign.
“Even their selective numbers confirm that Wisconsin has failed to capture the nationwide economic recovery, leaving us stalled at 44th in the nation in job growth, and last in the Midwest,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson in a prepared statement.
The latest figures released by Walker include the final three months of last year. The state created 32,000 jobs in 2012, up from about 30,000 in 2011, the report said.
“Gov. Walker is focused day in and day out on helping the private sector create jobs, and his reforms are showing results,” his spokesman Tom Evenson said in a statement. “These are the best two years of consistent, sustained job growth under any Wisconsin governor in over a decade, and all economic indicators show that Wisconsin is creating jobs.”
The news comes a week after the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported improved tax collection estimates show the state will have $500 million more than previously expected over the next two years.
The jobs report is not a surprise given that improved revenue forecast, said Alyssa Moyer, spokeswoman for Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.
“Job creation has been a priority since the start and this is proof that our reforms are working and people are going back to work in Wisconsin,” she said.
The quarterly jobs data showing an increase for 2012 is based on actual job counts reported by 160,000 Wisconsin employers as required by law as part of their tax and unemployment insurance reports. The information submitted by all 50 states is compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for its Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.