Walker vs. Burke: Jobs remains a key issue, and the candidates don't agree at all on the numbers

MADISON (WITI) -- Wisconsin's economy remains a key issue in the gubernatorial race, and both candidates are arguing they would be better at boosting the Badger State's business climate and helping to create more jobs. Governor Scott Walker and his challenger, Mary Burke agree jobs is the top issue in this race, but they don't agree at all on the numbers.

Voters are being inundated with conflicting numbers and narratives on Wisconsin's employment situation.

On one hand, Burke is saying Walker's policies have led to a sluggish economy, and that the state is falling behind its neighbors.

"We're not keeping up with the rest of the country.  We have not come out of this recession at the same pace, and we are dead last in the Midwest," Burke said.

On the other hand, Walker says Wisconsin is "on a comeback," and he's citing more recent, but less comprehensive monthly labor statistics.

"Those are numbers she's using and not pointing to the most recent statistics. Wisconsin now ranks third in the Midwest for actual private sector job creation.  That's just this week from the current employment statistics by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics," Walker said.

The employment survey comes out every month, and is simply an estimate. That's the number Walker is using when he says Wisconsin ranks third.

The quarterly census, which Walker called "the gold standard" to measure jobs is hard data that is much more reliable. That's what Burke is using when she says Wisconsin is "dead last."

Burke says Walker is "cherry picking" statistics.

"We're dead last in the Midwest in terms of jobs, and the numbers that came out yesterday don't really change that.  The trend is not positive," Burke said.

Burke has been running ads hammering Walker on his famous campaign pledge from 2010, and this week, the Greater Wisconsin Committee poured $737,000 into a statewide ad blitz -- hitting Walker on job growth.

"We now see the big union bosses who are allies of Mary Burke with new ads that are going up -- some of the same people who were behind the attacks on David Clarke," Walker said.

Walker says the more recent numbers should be celebrated as a sign of an economic comeback.

"That's a stark contrast to the ongoing strategy of Mary Burke to belittle and to criticize the Wisconsin comeback.  We think the people of this state want a leader who is focused on celebrating it and leading it going forward," Walker said.

"It's easy to belittle it because we're not making enough progress.   You know, we are dead last in the Midwest," Burke said.

Several recent polls have shown that Burke and Walker are locked in a dead heat as this race moves into its final 10 weeks.

The General Election is November 4th.