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Is Scott Walker to Thank for the Unemployment Rate in Wisconsin?

On June 7 of this year, Tom Girsch of Lean Left questioned those who’ve credited Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for a decline in the unemployment rate in the state since he took office on January 2011:

… it seems a lot of people are giving Gov. Walker credit for the job growth in Wisconsin… it’s hard to assign any special credit to Scott Walker when the trend in Wisconsin exactly mirrors the nationwide trend…. The point is, Walker’s jobs record only looks good when you’re very careful not to compare it to absolutely anything else.

Drawing on Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment reports for states and the United States overall, Girsch created the following graph to back up his claim:

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate, January 2011 to April 2012, in the United States and the state of Wisconsin

The snarky captions used to describe exactly the same trend in unemployment — on the one hand “Massive increase in US unemployment because of Barack Obama’s failed Socialist job-killing economic policies” and on the other hand “Massive decline in WI unemployment because of Scott Walker”s courageous, hugely successful job-creating policies” — capture the ridiculous way in which pro-Walker, anti-Obama partisans have been inconsistently reading unemployment statistics. If what’s happening in Wisconsin reflects goodness, then looking at the graph you have to say that what’s happening in the United States overall is good too, but the partisans won’t say that because it would might Barack Obama look good, and Thou Shalt Not Make Barack Obama Look Good. If what’s happening in the United States reflects badness, then looking at the graph you have to say that what’s happening in Wisconsin is bad too, but the partisans won’t say that because it might make Scott Walker look bad, and Thou Shalt Not Make Scott Walker Look Bad. The changes are parallel, suggesting that the forces driving the change aren’t limited to — and hence not stemming from — Wisconsin dynamics.

In case you’re curious, the parallel trajectories of the Wisconsin and United States unemployment rates have continued in the months since Tom Girsch’s post:

Unemployment Rate in Wisconsin and the US overall since Gov. Scott Walker took office.  Updated chart including data for May and June of 2012

2 thoughts on “Is Scott Walker to Thank for the Unemployment Rate in Wisconsin?”

  1. John Wall says:

    Of course Scott Walker isn’t able to claim he is ‘fixing’ the economy. It’s all cyclical trends. What a governor or president can do in a year or two is irrelevant.

    Although fear that others will give credit to Walker, Ryan and the like have caused me to start 🙂

    1. Jim Cook says:

      I like your political quotes section on Romney. I don’t like the bit where you offer the site up to the highest bidder, including people who’d just like to take it down.

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