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Federal job growth report spun along political lines

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Both parties tried to make political hay from Thursday's federal report showing that Wisconsin had the 34th lowest rate of job growth in the year ending in March.

The ranking was based on the percentage of each state's growth. Wisconsin jobs grew by 1.1 percent, for a total of 24,000-plus.

Republican Governor Scott Walker had a rosier view, noting Wisconsin had the 22nd largest increase in actual jobs. Wisconsin is 20th in population -- so the actual job numbers appear that the state is not lagging too far behind, as Walker faces re-election in 14 months. 

Minority Democrats tried to make the figures sound as grim as possible. Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca said the Badger State had the 37th slowest job growth when the time period examined was stretched to two years instead of one. 

He also cited projections that Wisconsin would fall to 45th in future growth. 

What neither side mentioned, though, is why the state is ranked where it is. Sue Marks of the Brookfield recruiting firm of Pinstripe Incorporated says there's no easy answer. 

She tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Wisconsin commercializes patents at a slow pace -- it has a proportionately small service sector -- and other states moved faster to create incentive packages for employers to invest. 

Marks also says the state's polarized politics do nothing to help. In her words, "It's hard to get all the right constituencies in one room to tackle important issues like this."