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But the discussion got particularly heated a few weeks ago when the state Department of Workforce Development, which is part of Walker’s administration, took the unprecedented step of releasing revised 2011 jobs numbers, months before they’re normally announced.
The DWD report showed that Wisconsin gained more than 23,000 jobs last year, contradicting an earlier U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study that said Wisconsin lost more jobs in 2011 than any other state.
The numbers were released one day before the scheduled DWD release of April’s unemployment numbers, which showed Wisconsin lost 5,900 jobs that month, including 6,200 in the private sector.
Critics said Walker was using his administration for political purposes.
Walker’s campaign said the numbers prove Walker is improving Wisconsin, and turned the criticism back on Barrett for overseeing a city with an increase in unemployment.
“The policies Barrett has implemented in his city have proven detrimental and Wisconsin cannot afford to let him take the state back to the failed days of record-setting job loss and double-digit tax increases,” Walker spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said in a statement after the DWD report was released.
Wisconsinites, even political experts, find themselves confused as to the current job situation.
But the Marquette numbers skew strongly in Walker’s favor: In Marquette’s poll released two weeks ago, 20 percent of those polled said Wisconsin has more jobs now than it did a year ago. That’s up to 38 percent in the poll released Wednesday—an 18-percent increase in two weeks.
Democrats sounded a positive note Wednesday.
Before to the release of the Marquette poll, Barrett’s office announced a different poll showing the gubernatorial race tied at 49 percent.
That poll was conducted by Celinda Lake, whom Franklin said is a “very respected” Democratic pollster.
Franklin announced Marquette’s results with several notes of caution.
First, he said, don’t read too much into any one poll, then noted that no poll since April has shown Barrett leading.
The Lake poll, however, was taken after Friday’s debate, and Barrett might have gotten a boost from his showdown with Walker, Franklin said.
All polls come with a margin of error: For the Marquette poll, it was 3.7 percent for questions involving all respondents and 4.1 percent for those questions asked only of likely voters.