By SCOTT BAUER, ASSOCIATED PRESS
(AP) MADISON, Wis. — Nearly one-in-five of the jobs listed on a state website touted by Gov. Scott Walker as a resource for unemployed Wisconsin residents are actually located in neighboring states, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.
More than 32,000 job openings were posted on the Job Center of Wisconsin's website as of Tuesday, but about 18 percent of them were in Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan. It was unclear how many of those roughly 6,000 jobs could be filled through telecommuting, though many appeared to require on-site work.
Walker ran on a promise to add 250,000 private sector jobs in the state by 2015, and the Republican repeatedly referenced the website – the state's official jobs site – in his radio address last week as a place for Wisconsin's unemployed to find jobs and quickly connect with employers.
Filling any of the out-of-state jobs wouldn't help Walker keep that campaign promise, but his spokesman said Tuesday that the jobs were worth pointing out.
"Residents who live in our state and work elsewhere create a positive impact on their local communities," spokesman Cullen Werwie said. "They spend their money back in their communities, create economic activity and ultimately help create an environment for job creation in those areas."
A search of the website Tuesday afternoon showed 32,253 job listings. Of those, 3,104 were in Illinois, 2,078 were in Minnesota, 737 were in Iowa and 136 were in Michigan.
It wasn't clear how many of the out-of-state jobs would allow someone to work from home, although a spot check showed many required on-site work, including multiple hotel housekeeper jobs just across the state border in Rockford, Ill., and farther south in the Chicago suburbs. It also was unclear how many would require workers to move out of Wisconsin.
But it's not unusual for people living near the Wisconsin border to work outside the state. The Twin Cities are only about 30 miles from Hudson, Wis., and downtown Chicago is about 50 miles from the state line and just a 90-minute train ride from Milwaukee. Dubuque, Iowa, is just across the Mississippi River and attracts workers from many rural Wisconsin communities.
The out-of-state jobs listed Tuesday included a corporate attorney in the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest; an electrical technician at John Deere just across the western Wisconsin border in Dubuque; and a Home Depot sales associate in Rochester, Minn., about 75 miles west of the border.
Patricia Frey, 51, of Madison was searching for jobs online Tuesday at the Dane County Job Center. Although she has family in Madison and would prefer to stay in the area, Frey said she's open to moving out of state and had no problem with the site listing jobs outside of Wisconsin.
"I think people are desperate the economy is so bad," she said. "You have to be open."
But Jim Walser, 66, of Madison said he has no plans to leave the area even though he's been searching for work as a delivery truck driver for two years. He comes to the job center once or twice a week to search for work on the website but he never looks at possibilities out of state.
"The jobs should be here," he said. "If they get a job out of state and move out of state, that's somebody who's not living in Wisconsin and spending money in Wisconsin."
Walker has repeatedly urged the unemployed to use the website to look for work. During a news conference in Milwaukee two months ago, he claimed there were 30,000 job listings on the site and said "we need people who are looking for work in this state to click on, to get connected."
A major part of Walker's successful campaign for governor was his job-creation promise. He's used the pledge as the backbone of many of his proposals designed to spur job creation and make Wisconsin a more attractive place for business.
Earlier this year, he unveiled a marketing campaign to lure Illinois companies to Wisconsin. Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said the state's job website is now attempting the opposite.
"I think it's unfortunate that he's touting a job creating program in Illinois," Tate said. "The governor should be focused on creating jobs in Wisconsin."
Not emphasizing that a good chunk of the jobs are actually in other states leaves the impression that all of the roughly 30,000 listed jobs are in Wisconsin and available if residents simply work hard enough, "and I have a problem with that," added Democratic state Rep. Louis Molepske of Stevens Point, which is in the center of the state.
The jobs website started under Walker's Democratic predecessor, Gov. Jim Doyle, in 2008, and is operated both by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and the Wisconsin Job Center system. Users can search the site in several ways, including by job type, education required and geographic location.
Job seekers also can post their resumes; the website claimed to have 27,606 on file Tuesday.
Wisconsin's unemployment rate for August was 7.9 percent, up from 7.4 percent when Walker took office in January. Over his first eight months in office, Wisconsin has added 41,700 jobs, according to the state Department of Workforce Development.
People who live in Wisconsin but work outside of the state are counted as being employed in Wisconsin.
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