MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin added a little more than 62,000 private-sector jobs during the first two years of Gov. Scott Walker's term, far off the pace needed to fulfill his campaign promise to create 250,000 jobs in four years.
But there was also good news for Walker in Thursday's jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It showed Wisconsin moved from 44th in the nation in total job creation to 31st for calendar year 2012.
"Today, over 62,000 Wisconsin moms, dads, and grandparents are able to make ends meet," Walker said in a statement. "Whether it's increased wages, increased manufacturing jobs, increased revenue, or lower unemployment rate, all economic indicators show Wisconsin is creating jobs."
While Walker put a positive spin on the numbers, Democrats focused on the negative, saying Wisconsin wasn't growing jobs fast enough. At the current pace, about 124,000 private-sector jobs will have been added by the time Walker's first term ends in 2015 — only halfway toward his promise.
"Another day, another jobs failure under Wisconsin's extreme Republican leadership," Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson said in a statement. "When the rest of the country is creating jobs and making economic progress, Wisconsin's single-party leadership has been distracted in their pursuit of an extreme social agenda rather than creating jobs for Wisconsin's middle-class families."
Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca said the recently passed state budget, which includes a $650 million income tax cut and expands private school vouchers statewide, will not help Wisconsin create jobs. He called on Republicans to join with Democrats in offering bills to improve the economy and worker training.
Democrats have used the jobs promise against Walker, making it a central issue in the 2012 recall election. But Walker won the recall by a wider margin than he did the 2010 general election, when he initially put the figure out there.
No Democrat has announced their plans to challenge Walker in 2014, but whoever does is certain to use the job creation numbers against him.
The state added 32,282 private-sector jobs in 2012, ranking it 21st nationwide. Based on the percentage growth of private-sector jobs, Wisconsin ranked 33rd at 1.4 percent.
Total job growth, which includes both private- and public-sector jobs, was 1.2 percent last year in Wisconsin, tying it with three other states for 31st nationwide in percentage growth. The state's job growth lagged behind the national average of 1.9 percent, and all of its neighbors except Illinois saw stronger growth. Illinois' jobs grew at 1.1 percent.
Thursday's report comes from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which is based on a survey of about 97 percent of Wisconsin businesses. Walker has argued his job promise should be based on that report, as he says it's the most accurate employment measurement available.