Obama Jobs Plan Numbers for Wisconsin Don’t Add Up

News Analysis | October 4, 2011

President Obama’s jobs plan, currently on life support in Washington, DC, would either only provide funding for laid off public workers for less than one year or would cover three years’ worth of compensation for less than a third of the promised jobs, a MacIver News analysis found.

In a column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and in subsequent remarks, including those made during a recent visit to Wisconsin’s largest city, US Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said “The president’s jobs bill would give Wisconsin $536 million to reverse layoffs of up to 7,400 educators and first responders.”

According to her own figures, the Jobs bill would therefore provide $72,432.43 per job.

However, the average annual compensation for educators in Wisconsin is often much higher, for example, the current average annual compensation for a Milwaukee Public School System teacher is $101,091. Research conducted by PolitiFact noted that two years earlier, eight school districts in Milwaukee County had average teacher compensations in excess of $100,000 per year: Greendale, Greenfield, Shorewood, Cudahy, Fox Point, South Milwaukee, Franklin and Nicolet. Statewide the average figure for public school teachers’ annual compensation for the 2009-2010 school year was $86,297.

However, as the Carolina Journal discovered, Sections 204-209 of the bill include “Maintenance of Effort” provisions requiring states to “meet the requirements” of the law for an additional two years. A White House spokeswoman told Carolina Journal that the bill includes no unfunded mandates. (The Carolina Journal is a project of the North Carolina based John Locke Foundation.)

Unless states pick up the funding for these jobs after the first year, it’s unclear how the teachers and first responders supported by the Obama Jobs plan could be paid.  If the jobs bill is expected to cover all three years, then the total number of jobs ‘created or saved’ by the bill should be reduced by a factor of three, meaning for three years the bill could reverse the layoffs of 2,467 teachers and first responders.

Again, this figure does not account for the discrepancy in average compensation for teachers and the average salary allotment figured by the White House

Moreover, Milwaukee Public Schools issued more than 500 layoffs this year after unions there refused to reopen existing labor contracts that had been negotiated under the previous collective bargaining laws. Milwaukee, therefore, had by far the most layoffs of any district in the state, so it stands to reason that a disproportionate number of ‘saved’ public sector jobs would be in the more expensive MPS district.

In either case, the numbers provided by the Administration do not appear to add up.