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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Issue of the Week: Where Are the Jobs?

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We'll give credit where it's due. The job numbers that Gov. Scott Walker rushed out before the June 5 recall election were confirmed by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics last week. They show that Wisconsin gained jobs in 2011, instead of losing them.

Unfortunately, it's not much to brag about when compared to the rest of the nation.

Walker's job creation record is pretty dismal and ranks 42nd in the nation. The state gained 0.7% new jobs last year, or not quite 20,000. The rate of job creation in Walker's Wisconsin is about half of the national job creation rate of 1.4%, and it lags behind our neighbors Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana and Michigan.

Walker's job creation record even lags behind former Gov. Jim Doyle's employment record during the recession. While the state lost more than 130,000 private sector jobs during the global economic downturn, Doyle's Wisconsin gained 34,000 private sector jobs in 2010, his last year in office. The state added just 28,000 private sector jobs during 2011, Walker's first year in office, while shedding about 8,000 public sector jobs.

The data show that workers are earning less in Walker's Wisconsin. Average weekly wages decreased 2.4% in 2011, compared to 2010.

Something's not working.

While the governor doesn't control the state's economy, he does have some tools to work with. Instead of turning down $810 million in federal transportation funds for high-speed rail that would have created thousands of high-paying construction jobs, or offering corporate tax breaks that are not directly linked to job creation, Walker should invest in the state's infrastructure and link state tax breaks directly to the number of jobs created, support affordable health care, and strengthen the public education system. Until then, employment will grow outside of Wisconsin in states with a healthy, well-trained workforce and a 21st-century transportation system.

Heroes of the Week
: Camp Yellow Ribbon and Respite Camp Volunteers

Easter Seals Southeast Wisconsin provides services for children and adults with disabilities and their families and caregivers. Founded in 1934, Easter Seals is based out of South Milwaukee (1016 Milwaukee Ave.), but extends its reach to Waukesha, Kenosha and the rest of Milwaukee County and has touched the lives of more than 10,000 disabled children and adults.

During the summer months, it offers four respite day-camp programs for children, teens and adults with or without disabilities, each camp providing recreational programming with opportunities for social interaction, self-expression, community outings and a variety of daily activities. In addition, Camp Yellow Ribbon (CYR) is a one-week, overnight summer camp offered for children of military families ages 7-14. CYR is designed to support children as they cope with the impact of their parents' deployment and/or transition back into civilian life.

Easter Seals is currently seeking volunteers to help with camp programs, field trips and various activities. It also depends highly on donations and has camp-specific donation wish lists available on its website. Those interested in volunteering or other opportunities are urged to contact Amy McGlothlen at 262-953-2215 or amym@eastersealswise.com. For more information about the organization or to view the donation wish lists, go to www.eastersealswise.com.

Correction
: Last week's "Issue of the Week" incorrectly stated that the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) gave its blessing to Arizona's controversial immigration law. CCA did not have a hand in the bill's drafting.