Two months ago, Governor Scott Walker was out with a press release with the triumphant headline, "Wisconsin #2 in Economic Growth," based on the percent change in the Philadelphia Fed's coincident index (a mearure based on a formula of four economic indicators) from the July to August. And soon after, the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) was up with an ad promoting the same ranking.
At the time, the Philly Fed said that this didn't really mean that Wisconsin was number #2 in "economic growth" and was somewhat of a perversion of their data, but let's humor the Governor and see what his "ranking" is this month. From September to October, Wisconsin's coincident index rose by 0.2%, which is below the national average of 0.24% and puts Wisconsin at number 28 in the nation.
The recent numbers also call into question another Philly Fed metric that Governor Walker cites at nearly event: the Leading Index, which is a projection of how much an individual state's coincident index will grow over the next six months. The Leading Index had projected that Wisconsin would have the largest improvement in their coincident index, but as we see from the latest numbers, the Leading Index projections are often wrong.
The Leading Index had projected in September that Wisconsin's growth in its coicident index would be 2.8% over six months or 0.46% for each month. At 0.2%, Wisconsin is growing at less than half of what the Philly Fed was projecting-- and what Walker was promoting at every opportunity.
In fact, just last month at the WMC's annual convention, Walker raised his finger and said, referencing the the recently-released Leading Index, "Do you know where we ranked? Number one! Number one in the country!" which was met with thundering applause.