Fox Advances Flawed WI Jobs Claim To Tout Gov. Walker's Policies

››› ››› REMINGTON SHEPARD

Fox News has repeatedly claimed that Wisconsin's jobs gains in June were "more than half of what the entire nation gained overall" during the same period in order to tout Republican Gov. Scott Walker's policies. In fact, PolitiFact Wisconsin has called this claim "False," stating that it is based on a "flawed comparison."

Fox Claims WI Jobs Gains Were "More Than Half Of What The Entire Nation Gained Overall" In June

Carlson: "In June, [Wisconsin] Gained 8,500 Jobs. That's More Than Half Of What The Entire Nation Gained Overall." On the August 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson introduced a segment featuring GOP Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by claiming: "In June, the state gained 8,500 jobs. That's more than half of what the entire nation gained overall." From the broadcast:

CARLSON: Welcome back, everyone. The state of Wisconsin is seeing success in job growth -- Fox News Alert. In June, the state gained 8,500 jobs. That's more than half of what the entire nation gained overall.

STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Meanwhile, one of those reasons for success, the governor, just seven months on the job, Scott Walker has helped the state get back more than a quarter of the jobs lost during the big recession. How did he do it? [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/3/11]

Fox & Friends also aired the following graphic:

WI Jobs

Camerota: Wisconsin Added "9,500 Jobs In June. That's More Than Half The Jobs Created Nationwide The Very Same Month." On the August 3 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, guest co-host Alisyn Camerota stated: "[O]ne state that is seeing job growth is the union battleground of Wisconsin. The state adding 9,500 jobs in June. That's more than half the jobs created nationwide the very same month." Camerota then aired a clip of Walker's interview on Fox & Friends. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 8/3/11]

PolitiFact Wisconsin: Claim That "More Than Half The Nation's Job Growth In June Came From Wisconsin" Is "False"

PolitiFact Wisconsin: "Walker, The State GOP And The Others Touting The National Numbers Are Making A Flawed Comparison." In a July 21 post, PolitiFact Wisconsin rated the claim that "more than half the nation's job growth in June came from Wisconsin" as "False." From PolitiFact Wisconsin:

In short, Walker, the state GOP and the others touting the national numbers are making a flawed comparison. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does separate national and state-by-state studies, each with different parameters and margins of error. The agency says it's wrong to mix the two estimates -- a warning included as a footnote on the documents themselves.

Here's how they put it:

"State estimation procedures are designed to produce accurate data for each individual state. (The bureau) independently develops the national employment series and does not force state estimates to sum to national totals nor vice versa.

"Because each state series is subject to larger sampling and nonsampling errors than the national series, summing them cumulates individual state levels errors and can cause significant distortions at an aggregate level. Due to these statistical limitations, (the bureau) does not compile a 'sum of states' employment series and cautions users that such a series is subject to a relatively large and volatile error structure."

In short, the bureau says you can't accurately use the individual state jobs reports to make a national comparison. Or even shorter: Don't do it.

Walker addressed the flawed comparisons a few days after the jobs report was released, during a July 26, 2011 appearance in Wausau.

"We made it very clear at our announcement that (our number) was not half of all the jobs out there, though it is an interesting parallel," Walker said.

In looking back at the various statements, some clearly went further than others -- and further than Walker's original tweet. Many of the strongest comparisons seem to take the lead from the state GOP, which claimed "over 50 percent of U.S. job growth in June came from our state."

As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, it is wrong to combine the two sets of numbers to reach this conclusion. After all, by that approach Minnesota, California and Texas could all say the same as the state GOP, which would lead to at least four halves and, apparently, two wholes.

This item isn't on whether the jobs news was good -- clearly it was -- but on how it was presented.

We rate the state GOP claim False. [PolitiFact.com, 7/21/11]

Associated Press: "That The Bulk Of The U.S. Jobs Were [Added] In Wisconsin ... As It Turns Out [Is] Far From The Case." The Associated Press (AP) reported that "Walker was correct this week in saying Wisconsin's net gain of 9,500 jobs last month was more than half the jobs added across the nation in that period," but noted that "[c]omparing the Wisconsin and U.S. figures directly ... could lead to a faulty inference -- that the bulk of the new U.S. jobs were in Wisconsin. As it turns out, that's far from the case." From the AP:

Gov. Scott Walker was correct this week in saying Wisconsin's net gain of 9,500 jobs last month was more than half the jobs added across the nation in that period - but looking at figures from other states makes the tally seem not quite as rosy.

While Wisconsin's monthly job numbers are generally released with little fanfare, Walker held a news conference Thursday to call attention to June's figure. He revealed that Wisconsin had added 12,900 private-sector jobs and lost 3,400 government jobs, for a net gain of 9,500 jobs.

Meanwhile, he noted, the U.S. recorded a net increase of 18,000 jobs for the month. All numbers are seasonally adjusted.

"In light of national job numbers ... our efforts in Wisconsin stand out," he said.

Comparing the Wisconsin and U.S. figures directly, however, could lead to a faulty inference -- that the bulk of the new U.S. jobs were in Wisconsin. As it turns out, that's far from the case.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, five states added more net jobs last month than Wisconsin did -- Texas (32,000 jobs), California (28,800), Michigan (18,000), Minnesota (13,200) and Massachusetts (10,400).

Nationwide, the gains were offset by net losses elsewhere, particularly in three states affected by harsh weather this spring. Tennessee lost 16,900 jobs, Missouri shed 15,700 jobs, and Virginia had a loss of 14,600 jobs. [AP, via Forbes.com, 7/23/11]

Posted In
Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, Alisyn Camerota
Show/Publication
FOX & Friends, America's Newsroom
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