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Reality Check: Burke misleads on unemployment figures

By Jessica Arp, jarp@wisctv.com
Published On: Mar 10 2014 05:47:13 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 10 2014 08:38:11 PM CDT

Ads are now on the air for both Gov. Scott Walker and his Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, disagreeing over the facts on jobs and unemployment.

MADISON, Wis. -

Ads are now on the air for both Gov. Scott Walker and his Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, disagreeing over the facts on jobs and unemployment.

"When she was commerce secretary, there were 72,000 more jobs than today," Burke's ad said.

News 3 finds it's true that when you compare federal job numbers for the last year Burke was at the Wisconsin Department of Commerce and the most recent year under Walker, there were 72,000 more jobs then versus now.

But it's the ad's claims about unemployment that have caused controversy.

"Why is Scott Walker's RGA spending a million dollars attacking her?" the ad asks. "Under Walker, unemployment's up."

News 3 finds this is false. "Under Walker," or during his term, unemployment is actually down, which is something the governor is now pointing out in a response ad.

"When Gov. Walker took office, the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent," the ad said. "Today it is 6.3."

In the Burke ad, you see 4.8 percent on the screen, which Burke's campaign says was the unemployment rate when she was commerce secretary. Is it fair for her to compare her record to the governor's? Sure, but that's not what the ad actually says or shows on screen, but rather it refers to Walker's term in office.

The governor then goes on to throw out his own job figure.

"Today it is 6.3 percent, the lowest it's been since 2008, over 100,000 more jobs," the ad said.

News 3 finds this is true. Adding up the most accurate and best available job figures, we get to just more than 107,000 jobs created, but still not the 250,000 jobs promised in this term.

Then there's the final claim in the Burke ad.

"Job prospects are down to 45th in the nation," the ad said.

News 3 finds this needs clarification. Burke cites a 45th ranking for 5-year job prospects as of August 2013 by Moody's Analytics. But that's not the whole picture.

According to Moody's, Wisconsin ranked 45th when Walker took office in January 2011. A year later the state was 42nd, a year after that 44th and in January Wisconsin ranked 46th. For comparison's sake, the last month Mary Burke was at Commerce, the state ranked 45th.

If you have an idea for a Reality Check send it to realitycheck@channel3000.com.

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