“It’s not like we don’t have enough jobs here in Wisconsin” – Ron Johnson, February 2022

Article here. How’s Wisconsin doing, jobwise — particularly in terms of the manufacturing employment that Senator Johnson declined to try to bring to Wisconsin?

Figure 1: Wisconsin manufacturing employment (black), and United States manufacturing employment (tan), both s.a., in logs, 2020M02=0. NBER defined peak to trought recession dates shaded gray. Source: BLS via FRED, NBER, and author’s calculations.

While national manufacturing is up by half a percentage point (in logs terms), Wisconsin is down by 0.8 percentage points.

What about private employment overall? There the gap in performance is larger (0.7 ppts versus -0.016 ppts).

Figure 2: Wisconsin private nonfarm payroll employment (black), and United States private nonfarm payroll employment (tan), both s.a., in logs, 2020M02=0. NBER defined peak to trought recession dates shaded gray. Source: BLS via FRED, NBER, and author’s calculations.

Strangely, in 2018, Senator Johnson was an enthusiastic proponent of the Foxconn misadventure – from the horse’s mouth, see here.

Hence, I stipulate that Senator Johnson is mischaracterizing the situation in Wisconsin.



Reader Econned claims I should be ashamed for using jobs instead of unfilled jobs. Well, here is the total number of jobs and unfilled jobs, and a picture of how that was below pre-recession levels in 2022M02, and far below trend, when Senator Johnson made his reference to *jobs*.

Figure 3: Wisconsin private nonfarm payroll employment plus job openings from JOLTS (blue), s.a, and trend estimated on 2009M06-2020M01 (red), both on a log scale. NBER defined peak to trough recession dates shaded gray. Source: BLS via FRED, BLS, NBER, and author’s calculations.


26 thoughts on ““It’s not like we don’t have enough jobs here in Wisconsin” – Ron Johnson, February 2022

  1. Econned

    You’re showing employment data while Johnson is clearly referencing jobs.
    Full quote (directly from the article that you linked to) follows: “It’s not like we don’t have enough jobs here in Wisconsin. The biggest problem we have in Wisconsin right now is employers not being able to find enough workers.”
    Now one can certainly debate the merits of Johnson’s actual comment, but that’s certainly not what you’re doing here. And I seem to recall you making a similar sophomoric error in the past. Poor form. Again.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Econned: You are in error. I am citing establishment data, and if you understood what the CES did, you would know that’s “jobs”. Making the distinction you are, if I had reported CPS data (FRED series CE16OV), then maybe you would have a leg to stand on for this already feeble argument.

      Please revise and resubmit your comments. I promise to publish. I need fodder for my undergraduate students to demonstrate what not to write if trying to comment on policy.

      1. Econned

        You’re wrong. The CES is based on surveys of businesses based on workers on payrolls. You are showing jobs that are filled while Johnson is also referencing jobs that are not filled.

        You can fool your impressionable students but not anyone who can see through your partisan and subjective b.s.

      1. Econned

        As long as you’re able to forthright in this highly anticipated post, I’m happy to help. But smart money isn’t on your side.

          1. pgl

            October 4, 2022 at 7:30 pm
            Yes, your disingenuous comments are public.

            And your lies are on the Dark Web? Sorry dude – but we have all seen your intellectual garbage.

    2. Macroduck

      Econned is apparently upset that (s)he hasn’t been mentioned nearly as often as some other as the dumbest commenter here. Well, congratulations! You’re moving up in the rankings.

      “Employment data” includes both individual jobs and indvidual employees. So when you wrongly accused Menzie of being wrong by discussing “employment data” instead of jobs, you even messed that up. You can’t even make a mistake properly.

      Question for readers: Can you remember other instance of commenters being wrong in two dfferent ways in the same sentence? Johnny has obviously managed it, but I’m pretty sure others have, as well. A poor understanding of economic terminology isn’t strictly necessary to be wrong two different ways, but it helps.

      1. baffling

        econned tried to be an academic economist at one time, but failed to be successful. so he takes his anger out on prof. chinn. professional jealousy. i believe dick stryker falls into the same category. neither of them could obtain tenure, or lost it. so they take their anger out on somebody successful, in an attempt to project their own failures. it is sad, really.

    1. Moses Herzog


      Uncle Tom and amoral baby killer, all wrapped up into one package. donald trump’s ideal candidate. trump hasn’t seen tap-dancing and smiling for the master from a “House-N” this great since Ben Carson.

      “The term was used by Malcolm X. In slavery days, you had house slaves and field slaves. The house slaves were “well behaved” and were “rewarded” by being allowed to work in the “big house” close to the master. The field slaves were “rough” and only suited for field work. Thus the people were divided and pitted against themselves, instead of the common enemy.”


      1. pgl

        All of this is actually documented in Gone with the Wind if one looks past the pathetic glorification of the Old South.

    2. pgl

      Walker is clearly not qualified to be a US Senator but there are enough crackers (or if you prefer rednecks) out there that he has a chance. If the citizens of Georgia put this clown in the Senate, the talk about the New South will turn out to be a joke.

    3. pgl

      ‘After the story published, Walker released a statement in which he called the story a “flat-out lie” and said he denied it in the “strongest possible terms.”‘

      As Trump might say “he said it strongly”. Of course, the evidence shows this story is true. Plus Walker lies about everything.

      Now the best part is when Herschel’s own son came out against the womanizing POS.

  2. Macroduck

    Off topic, under water mortgages –

    Bill at Calculated Risk has re-evaluated his thinking on housing prices:


    He had previously thought flat nominal prices and falling real prices was the most likely future. Now, he thinks falling nominal prices are likely, and cited recent data to show that nominal prices are already falling. We are now facing some number of under water mortgages (mortgages with negative equity). The greater the decline in prices, the greater the number of mortgages with negative equity and the more serious the resulting problems.

  3. James

    Menzie – Sen Johnson has moved on from jobs – according to his latest ads (which I am bombarded with on all media channels) – Johnson will protect my family by showing me a video of someone loading a shotgun, I’m not sure how that will help – since I already know how to do that. Also – from his seat in the Senate – he votes against any kind of federal aid for Wisconsin – including for community policing and emergency services.

    According to his ads – all of which have a racist dog whistle – Johnson is white while Barnes is a black man. Johnson is running on the racist ticket – let us hope that Wisconsinites don’t buy it. https://americanindependent.com/ron-johnson-mandela-barnes-racist-attack-ad-wisconsin-senate-2022-election/

    Also East coast elite Michels is running on the “he will be a tough guy on crime” theme – but the true aim of the hundreds of $ millions – that GOP is pouring into the state is so they can control – legislature and governorship and state supreme court. The WIGOP will then tell you how you voted in 2024 and WIGOP will implement women’s healthcare from 1849.

    1. pgl

      all of which have a racist dog whistle.

      Huh – this just might be why Econned is so eager to defend RonJon!

    2. Noneconomist

      In the Nevada primary, it seemed that every Republican running for any office featured guns in his/her commercials. Or I should say, featured themselves holding a gun with any available family members also doing the same.
      One candidate for governor-an eventual loser— even promised he would personally shut down every Planned Parenthood clinic in the state. With, I assumed, his own gun.
      Not surprisingly there was no mention of shutting down any of the state’s brothels, still numerous and prosperous and not to trifled with.

  4. ltr

    Paul Krugman and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took the same discouraging stance when Amazon was about to create 25,000 fine-paying jobs in New York City. New York needed those jobs then and more so now, and especially needed the advanced technology focus that Amazon would have meant:


    February 14, 2019

    New York Returns 25,000 Jobs to Amazon
    As the company cancels its plans for a major Queens campus, anti-corporate activists got what they wanted at a great cost.

    1. pgl

      Hey I have friends who live in Queens. And they were happy Amazon did not crowd out their neighborhoods. BTW – unlike Republicans, we in NYC welcome migrant workers as we have jobs for them.

  5. ltr


    September 14, 2022

    In New York City, Pandemic Job Losses Linger
    Even as the country as a whole has recovered all of the jobs it lost during the pandemic, the city is still missing 176,000 — the slowest recovery of any major metropolitan area.
    By Nicole Hong and Matthew Haag

    The darkest days of the pandemic are far behind New York City. Masks are coming off, Times Square is packed with tourists and Midtown Manhattan lunch spots have growing lines of workers in business suits. Walking around the city, it often feels like 2019 again.

    But the bustling surface obscures a lingering wound from the pandemic. While the country as a whole has recently regained all of the jobs it lost early in the health crisis, New York City is still missing 176,000, representing the slowest recovery of any major metropolitan area, according to the latest employment data….

    1. pgl

      This is true but it is not a lack of demand for workers. A lot of New Yorkers are not comfortable getting on the subway until this pandemic is eliminated.

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