by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Hillary Rodham Clinton shed her usual sunny demeanor last week and snarled at Republicans in general and one presidential candidate in particular.
“Republican governors like Scott Walker have made their names stomping on workers’ rights, and practically all Republican candidates would do the same as president,” Clinton growled at Manhattan’s New School. “I will fight back against these mean-spirited, misguided attacks. Evidence shows that the decline of unions may be responsible for a third of the increase of inequality among men. So, if we want to get serious about raising income, we have to get serious about supporting union workers.”
Later that day, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka snapped, “Scott Walker is a national disgrace.”
Liberals like Clinton and Trumka have it all wrong. Workers have been waxing, not waning, under Walker. And they can thank his free-market reforms for improving their lives.
If there’s one thing workers value, it’s work. And on this score, Wisconsin’s Republican governor has delivered.
The Badger State’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 7.4 percent in January 2011 (the month of Walker’s inauguration) to 4.6 percent in May 2015 (the latest available figure). U.S. joblessness dropped from 9.0 percent to 5.5 percent over that period. Wisconsin’s unemployment, thus, stands well below America’s.
May’s labor-force participation rate also was higher in Wisconsin (67.9 percent) than across America (62.9 percent). These figures are down in both places, compared with when Walker arrived. In January 2011, 69.1 percent of working-age Wisconsinites held jobs, versus 64.2 percent of Americans. This key metric has slipped 1.7 percent in Wisconsin but has slid 2.0 percent nationwide.
Concerning ready cash, workers are faring significantly better under Walker than under Obama. According to the latest census statistics, Wisconsin’s inflation-adjusted median household income grew 2.7 percent, from $53,795 in 2010 to $55,258 in 2013. During those years, America’s equivalent household income shrank 1.3 percent, from $52,646 to $51,939. Indeed, under Walker, workers’ paychecks swelled by double what they shriveled under Obama.