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Reality Check: Walker Ad Blames Barrett For Milwaukee Poverty

Published On: Oct 28 2010 07:12:03 AM CDT   Updated On: Oct 28 2010 07:49:36 AM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

A central theme of this election season has been jobs and unemployment.

Republican candidate for governor Scott Walker goes one step further in a recent ad, blaming Milwaukee poverty on his opponent, Democrat Tom Barrett, who is Milwaukee's mayor.

The ad tries to cast doubt on whether Barrett can create jobs or curb poverty.

"Tom Barrett says he's brought jobs to Milwaukee, but a new report says Barrett's city has one of the worst job creation records of any big city in the U.S.," the ad says.

WISC-TV found this to be misleading.

As for the "new" report, the ad is citing an article from 2007, after Barrett had been mayor for three years.

Walker, who is the Milwaukee County executive, could have looked at the most recent analysis of the jobless rate done by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and found that Milwaukee unemployment is actually ranked 36th out of 50 big cities across the country, not 49th, WISC-TV reported.

"And on Tom Barrett's watch, the city of Milwaukee has become the fourth poorest city in the nation," the ad says.

WISC-TV found this claim to be true. Since Barrett has been mayor, poverty figures have bounced around from 26 percent when he took office, peaking at 26.2 percent in 2006, to as low as 23.9 percent in 2009.

This year's numbers show 27 percent of people in poverty in the state's biggest city, which is the fourth highest of cities that size in the country.

Milwaukee had the 11th-highest level of poverty last year.

It's worth noting when it comes to these statistics that the city of Milwaukee is in Milwaukee County, so when looking at who could be addressing poverty or unemployment in these areas, the responsibility certainly is shared between the mayor and Milwaukee County executive.

Barrett and Walker meet for their third and final debate on Friday in Madison. WISC-TV's Eric Franke will host the debate with Wisconsin Public Television's Fredericka Freyburg. The debate begins at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on TV-W and Wisconsin Public Television.

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