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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s Job Record in One Chart

Menzie Chinn at Econbrowser gives us this chart, reiterating something I have been saying for quite a while about Scott Walker’s jobs record. Aside from the “divide and conquer” collective bargaining assault, this is something I feel Walker has the most vulnerability on in his recall campaign. Walker definitively campaigned on bringing 250,000 jobs to Wisconsin over his four-year term. We’re a little over a year into that. In this time, he’s barely put jobs into positive territory. It would be nearly impossible for Walker to reach his 250,000 target by now; he would have to average job growth equal to the strongest in Wisconsin history. Nonetheless, Walker recommitted to the figure at the state Republican convention over the weekend:

Gov. Scott Walker recommitted Saturday to his pledge to create 250,000 private-sector jobs by 2015, a promise all the more difficult to achieve since he first made it because of anemic job growth during his tenure.

Speaking to the GOP faithful at the state Republican Party’s annual convention in Green Bay, Walker said he believed job growth has been better than government statistics have shown and that he could still meet the 250,000 job vow if he serves a full term […]

Walker first made the jobs promise during that campaign, but since he took office in January 2011 just 5,900 jobs have been created. New jobs numbers are due Thursday.

“It’s a commitment I made in 2010 and it’s a commitment I make today,” Walker said.

Over the past year, Wisconsin was dead last in job creation, and there is no special extenuating circumstance for that. It’s not hard to chalk that up to a failure of leadership at the top. As for Walker’s denial of statistical reality, and his belief that his job figures will eventually get revised up, even the most optimistic view of that would still leave the state well behind the target of 250,000 jobs in four years.

The problem is that Walker can just play fun with statistics for the next three-plus weeks, and he’s armed with $15 million or so in ads that will fudge the issue. Wisconsinites must implicitly feel that their economy has been stagnant over the last year, but that doesn’t mean they’ll act on it. By contrast, the smoking gun in the form of the divide and conquer video has splashed upon television screens across the state, and that plays back into the animating purpose for the recall – Walker’s overreach and assault on ordinary workers. This seems like a much more fertile base for a recall campaign.

But with jobs the primary preoccupation of the electorate, it is worth pointing out that Scott Walker has no idea how to create them.

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David Dayen

David Dayen