An Inconvenient Wisconsin Truth

A funny thing happened on the way to the recall. Government unions organized Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s (R) recall in retaliation for limiting their collective bargaining powers. But the Democratic candidate, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, barely mentions the collective bargaining law on the campaign trail. That is probably because—now that they have seen its benefits—most Wisconsin voters want to keep it. By a 53 percent to 38 percent margin, independent voters favor the limits on collective bargaining in government. It turns out that closing a $3.6 billion deficit without raising taxes or laying off teachers is popular after all.

So Governor Walker’s opponents have instead attacked his handling of the Wisconsin economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) conducts two surveys of the job market. One surveys households and measures unemployment; the other surveys employers and reports jobs losses and gains. Over the past year, these surveys have painted very different pictures of the Badger State’s economy.

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