Feds say Wisconsin lost jobs in October -- state says it gained jobs in quarter; Media doesn’t play fair, says Rodgers; more briefsWisconsin News
Wisconsin lost an estimated 6,000 private sector jobs in October, according to the federal government’s monthly job data released Thursday. But more comprehensive job data the state submits to federal officials for a quarterly report says Wisconsin gained over 35,000 private sector jobs during the year ending in June.
Wisconsin lost an estimated 6,000 private sector jobs in October, according to the federal government’s monthly job data released Thursday by state officials.
The report said 1,500 government jobs were also lost during October, but the state’s unemployment rate still managed to fall to 6.8%, four-tenths lower than in September.
Also yesterday, the state released more comprehensive job data that it submits to federal officials for a quarterly report that won’t come out until early January. That report said Wisconsin gained over 35,000 private sector jobs during the year ending in June.
The Walker administration is the first to highlight the quarterly figures as critics hold the Republican governor to his promise to create 250,000 private sector jobs during his entire four-year term. Almost 28,000 jobs were created in Walker’s first year in office.
Walker’s team has also criticized the accuracy of the monthly federal data. Those reports are based on surveys of just 3.5% of employers – while the less timely quarterly data represents a complete survey. The monthly figures are often subject to large revisions.
Media doesn’t play fair, says Rodgers
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is having a rough time with the media these days.
This week he admonished reporters for speculating that he was engaged to his girlfriend Destiny Newton after a blog highlighted a ring she was wearing at a college football game the two attended last Saturday.
Now Rodgers is getting into a spitting match with the CBS TV show “60 Minutes” over a profile of him that the program showed almost two weeks ago.
Two days after the profile aired, Rodgers said it could have been edited in a way that was more respectful to him. And he complained that the piece mentioned nothing about a major charity event that he let “60 Minutes” cover in May.
Then on Wednesday, Rodgers told Detroit reporters that CBS unfairly edited his answers to questions about the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.
He said on the show that he feels like defenses are trying to take him out of every game, but he wasn’t sure if they got into a money pool to do it. But he later told reporters not to take too much stock in those comments, saying it was “cut for their purposes, their agenda.”
Yesterday “60 Minutes” responded by releasing a transcript of Rodgers’ comments, including some that did not appear on the show.
Executive producer Jeff Fager said Rodgers was “never taken out of context, and most anybody portrayed as he was on ‘60 Mintues’ would have been flattered.”
Fager also said it was “obvious we got it right when we reported that he tends to be overly sensitive.”
Officials trimming unemployment-benefit backlog
State officials say they’re making progress in reducing a large backlog in claims for unemployment benefits.
There has been a large increase in claims that need to be reviewed by hand for various reasons.
Three weeks ago, the Workforce Development agency had not reviewed 9,300 requests for jobless benefits which dated back to July. Those applicants were waiting for months to get their checks.
Since then, about 1,400 of the requests were handled, with the help of 15 additional part-time workers. Spokesman John Dipko said 20 more part-timers will start next month, and the agency expects to make “significant progress” in reducing the backed-up caseload over the next 10 weeks.
Dipko said the July cases have been processed, and the agency is now working on claims dating back to around Aug. 20.
The backlog involves cases in which unemployment recipients were overpaid after they had under-reported their incomes – either by mistake or on purpose. Officials say those claims must be reviewed manually, and the most complicated ones can take hours to handle.
In other cases, the agency has to make sure people exhausted the state’s jobless benefits before getting federal extensions.
Officials say the applicants will get all the benefits to which they’re entitled, but they’re not being paid until the processing is finished.
More homeowners falling behind on mortgage payments
More Wisconsin homeowners are behind on their mortgages than a year ago.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said that 6.25% of all mortgages in the state were in arrears on Sept. 30. That’s up by .01% from the previous year.
Officials said more loans appear to be 30 days past due, both in Wisconsin and nationally.
The bankers’ trade group said it’s not surprising “given the weak economic and job growth in the third quarter” of the year.
Even so, Wisconsin is bucking a nationwide trend of falling delinquencies. The national rate fell from 8.2% last September to just over 7.6% this time. The biggest declines were loans that were at least 90 days past due.
The Mortgage Bankers Group said Wisconsin’s actual foreclosure rate is smaller than a year ago. Almost 3.2% of Wisconsin mortgages were in some stage of foreclosure in September – down from almost 3.5% the year before.
More West Nile cases reported in state than ever before
This year was the worst on record for the West Nile virus in Wisconsin.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control said the state had 54 human cases of the mosquito-borne virus during 2012. That’s more than the previous high of 48 human cases in 2002 when West Nile was first reported.
The CDC reported four deaths in Wisconsin, and 14 Wisconsinites had West Nile without knowing it until they gave blood and it turned up in tests at that point.
As of late October, state officials said 32 birds and one horse also died from the virus.
33 charges involving illegal strip-searches filed against four Milwaukee cops
Four Milwaukee police officers are scheduled to go on trial next April 29 for illegally strip-searching criminal suspects and checking their cavities for illegal drugs.
Officers Michael Vagnini, Jeffrey Dollhopf, Brian Kozolek and Jacob Knight entered not guilty pleas Thursday to a total of 33 charges.
Vagnini is the main suspect. He’s charged with 25 counts of illegal strip searches, sexual assault and misconduct in public office.
The charges were filed last month, after a secret John Doe investigation. Prosecutors said that in one case, two officers held a suspect’s arms while another held a gun to the man’s head and a fourth officer put on a choke-hold which searching the man’s buttocks for drug evidence.
Another suspect claimed that he bled from his rectum for several days after police searched it.
All four officers are due back in court Dec. 17 when pretrial requests will be considered.
Tech college student charged with 49 counts of molesting kids
A Racine technical college student now faces 49 felony charges of molesting six children while he was babysitting them.
Twenty-three new counts were filed Thursday against Alexander Richter, 28, after authorities learned the identities of four of the six victims. Twenty-six counts were filed earlier this week based on allegations involving the first two youngsters.
A Racine County court commissioner increased Richter’s bond from $500,000 to $1 million. A preliminary hearing on all 49 charges is set for next Wednesday.
Among the new evidence introduced Thursday was a video that Richter reportedly made called “Monster Unleashed.” Prosecutors said the video appeared to have been produced at his house.
Officials said children as young as five were molested since early 2009. Police said they were apparently the children of Richter’s fellow students at Gateway Technical College.
The charges include first-degree child sexual assault, child sexploitation and possessing of child pornography. If convicted on all counts, Richter faces maximum sentences of up to 1,845 years in prison.
Milwaukee firm allegedly ran government-loan scam
Wisconsin’s Better Business Bureau now has almost 140 complaints about a Milwaukee firm that reportedly offered government loans that were not provided.
The Journal Sentinel said hundreds of low-income people in Milwaukee’s inner city lost fees of up to $40 they paid to a company called “My Bill Assist.”
The paper said the firm was taking applications for loans of up to $1,500 to pay bills. Some people said they were told the money came from President Obama and did not have to be paid back. They were reportedly charged a $20 application fee and a $20 membership fee.
Several people told the paper they were concerned about identity theft because they gave their Social Security numbers and other personal information to the firm.
Milwaukee Police say they’re investigating. The Journal Sentinel said the company stopped taking in-person applications and only accepted requests online. Yesterday the paper said the “My Bill Assist” Website was limited to those with passwords.