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Reality Check: State Gains Jobs But Sees Unemployment Increase

Published On: Jul 21 2011 10:20:05 AM CDT   Updated On: Jul 22 2011 05:34:07 AM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

Job numbers released by the state of Wisconsin on Thursday may have some scratching their heads.

The numbers are out, ahead of a national report on jobs, and show jobs are up -- but unemployment is, too.

On Thursday, Gov. Scott Walker announced that the number of jobs in Wisconsin is up.

"The good news for us in the state of Wisconsin is in the month of June we saw a new job increase of around 9,500 jobs," Walker said.

WISC-TV found this claim needs clarification. The Department of Workforce Development said the state has gained a net of 9,500 jobs from May to June, but the unemployment rate went up slightly from 7.4 percent to 7.6 percent in that same time.

The seemingly contradictory numbers have some scratching their heads.

"It's very confusing because they come from two different sources of data," said Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The actual jobs numbers come from a DWD and Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of employers that asks how many people are on their payrolls.

Unemployment figures are from an entirely separate survey, and the "unemployment rate" actually reflects the number of people who say they are currently looking for work.

"One of the paradoxes is that after a recession, as the jobs start to come back, more people that had gotten discouraged and quit looking for work start to look," said Franklin. "So that makes the survey show a higher number of people looking for jobs and can make the unemployment rate bounce up even more if people are getting jobs."

Franklin said one number need not negate the other, and that unemployment does not have to mean there were layoffs in the state.

DWD's numbers show Wisconsin lost 3,400 government jobs from May to June. But in general, state statistics show the state has been on a jobs upswing since the beginning of 2010, WISC-TV reported.

"While these two data sources track pretty well with each other over the long haul, from month to month they can either agree or disagree with each other by a bit, and that's part of what's going on right now," said Franklin.

Walker also said that Wisconsin's net job gain is half of the net job gain nationwide last month, which was 18,000 jobs.

The Massachusetts Department of Labor released similar statistics Thursday, saying it created 10,400 jobs last month, and Minnesota claimed adding 13,000 jobs.

A more accurate picture of nationwide job growth or loss is expected Friday, when all 50 states release their job growth numbers.

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