Gov. Scott Walker toured a La Crosse manufacturing plant and held a rally Monday to plug figures that show Wisconsin added 35,000 jobs since he took office.
Accompanied by former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Walker downplayed and criticized other numbers from the federal government that say the state lost 33,900 jobs in 2011.
“We have the truth on our side,” he said. “We have the most powerful weapon out there.”
Walker revealed the new figures last week and has been using them as a response to challenges that job creation has suffered under his leadership. His opponent, Democrat Tom Barrett, has cited the federal numbers in his attacks on Walker.
So, which numbers to believe?
The standard measure of job growth used by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics, is based on a survey of 3.5 percent of Wisconsin businesses. The BLS reports say Wisconsin was last in the nation in job creation between March 2011 and March 2012 and the only state to lose a significant number of jobs.
Walker’s numbers are based on information from about 160,000 — roughly 96 percent — of the state’s employers. The larger sample pool, he said, means the numbers that show growth are more accurate.
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Minnesota, like every other state in the nation, is measured under the same BLS survey, but Pawlenty said the BLS reports are less favorable because they are based on a small pool of information.
“You can only make good conclusions with good data,” he said.
Walker and Pawlenty, a former Republican presidential candidate, toured DuraTech Industries, which employs nearly 200 people at its La Crosse facility. It added nearly 40 jobs in the past year.
“I was here last year,” Walker said, “and it’s good to see there’s another example of a great company across the state that’s growing.”
Pawlenty said he was touring with Walker because he supports the governor and what he called the difficult but positive, changes Walker made in Wisconsin.
“Real change requires real leadership,” Pawlenty said. “You have in Gov. Walker somebody who has the courage and the strength, and the vision to not only talk about real change but put it into place.”
Walker’s reforms created a better environment for jobs and allowed for statewide property tax reductions, Pawlenty said.
“You’ve got a governor who gets it,” Pawlenty said. “He shouldn’t be recalled. He should be applauded.“
The recall election is June 5.