By Scott Walker

“Job reports point to stronger economy.”

This was the headline on the front page of a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel edition, and it is certainly good news for Wisconsin. Let’s take a look at the latest facts from the March jobs report:

  • 13,100 private-sector jobs were created, and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.5% — below the national rate of 5%.
  • Wisconsin reached an all-time high for total employment with more than 3 million people working.
  • Wisconsin is ranked fifth best in the country and No. 1 in the Midwest for job growth from February to March.
  • The labor force participation rate was 68.8%, ranking Wisconsin sixth best in the country.
  • Wisconsin had the best 12 months of job growth since 2004.

On top of all of that, Wisconsin was one of just 10 states to have a better average unemployment rate in 2015 than we did before the recession in 2007. These facts are good news for working families all across the state.

It’s no secret that growing jobs, strengthening Wisconsin’s economy and highlighting our state’s successes have been top priorities for my administration. Through tax relief and government reforms, we worked to get the mighty hand of the government out of the way and unleash the power of the private sector of our economy. More than five years into our administration, we are seeing measurable, positive results.

Looking ahead, one of our biggest challenges is finding enough people to fill all the new jobs being created in Wisconsin. With this in mind, we invested millions into our public schools in dual enrollment and youth apprenticeship programs. Lately, we put more into our technical colleges and we continue to fund customized worker training sessions.

In addition, we now require all able-bodied adults without kids in the home to work or be enrolled in our job training program before they can get benefits such as food stamps. Some think we kick them off if they can’t find a job. That’s just wrong.

In reality, we provide job training if they can’t find work, and we even offer translation services, English as a Second Language classes, and a High School Equivalency Program to tear down additional barriers to success. We even help with rehabilitation treatment if someone has a drug addiction. We can find a job for someone who has basic job skills and is free of drugs.

And here’s great news — since April of last year, this job training and educational program helped almost 12,000 people move from government dependence to true independence, by giving them the assistance they need to get the job they want. Of that total, 6,200 are in Milwaukee County alone, and the success stories are so empowering.

One participant in our program from the Milwaukee area offered this testimony:

“I submitted an application to St. Luke’s Medical Center for full-time employment. St. Luke’s Medical Center called me the next day and conducted a phone interview. When I got to the interview, I used the techniques that I was taught in Road Maps to Success to really wow the manager and was offered the job right on the spot. The moral of this story is to never give up on what you want to do! I got the job as a Health Unit Coordinator working in the Emergency Room, right where I wanted to end up.”

Stories like this one are what this is all about. Because of these reforms, people are now excelling in the workforce in fields including health care and manufacturing at great Wisconsin companies. They are confirming what we’ve always known — people want to work. They want the dignity and independence that comes from having a job that allows them to support themselves and their families.

More jobs and higher wages. That’s our goal as we work to help move Wisconsin forward. The latest news shows that we are heading in the right direction. The Wisconsin Comeback continues.

Scott Walker is the governor of Wisconsin.

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