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.
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: