Romney vs. Obama on job creation
“And I'm very happy in my former life; we helped create over 100,000 new jobs. By the way, we created more jobs in Massachusetts than this president’s created in the entire country. So if the president wants to talk about jobs, and I hope he does, we’ll be comparing my record with his record and he comes up very, very short.”
— Mitt Romney, Jan. 3, 2012
It’s a new year, and we already have new claims about job creation. The Romney campaign was sufficiently proud of this quote, made on “Fox and Friends,” that it blast-e-mailed it to reporters.
As we have mentioned before, the notion that a president – or particularly a governor – can magically create jobs with a set of policies is a bit of a stretch. Broadly speaking, presidential policies can certainly have an impact, but even a president is at the mercy of the business cycle. Obama became president in the midst of the worst recession in memory, so obviously that is going to be a drag on his “job-creation record.”
The Romney campaign provided a link to Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing that during Romney’s four-year term as Massachusetts governor, the number of jobs went up 61,000. By contrast, the number of jobs under Obama has dropped by 1.86 million.
Sounds bad, but context is everything. Obama has only been president for three years, so it seems only fair to compare him to Romney’s record in his first three years. The economic environment was pretty lousy in the early part of Romney’s term, so his three-year record amounts to less than 3,400 jobs. We’re not sure that’s worth bragging about.
Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom responded, “On an absolute value basis this is still better than Obama by 1.8553367 million jobs.”
When we last looked at one of Romney’s claims about Obama’s job record, his campaign inflated the job-loss total by assigning the entire month of January — when 820,000 jobs were lost — to Obama’s term, even though he took office Jan. 20. We are pleased to see that the campaign no longer does this, and instead starts the count in February.
But is this fair? An additional 2.2 million jobs were lost in February, March and April, before much of Obama’s stimulus could take effect. (He signed it into law Feb. 18). The recession did not officially come to an end until June 2009. Since that point, 1.2 million jobs have been created — which is still pretty anemic, but it is not a negative number.
Romney also claims to have created more than 100,000 jobs as a business consultant.
Fehrnstrom says the 100,000 figure stems from the growth in jobs from three companies that Romney helped to start or grow while at Bain Capital: Staples (a gain of 89,000 jobs), The Sports Authority (15,000 jobs), and Domino’s (7,900 jobs).
This tally obviously does not include job losses from other companies with which Bain Capital was involved — and are based on current employment figures, not the period when Romney worked at Bain. (Indeed, Romney made his comments in response to a former employee of American Pad & Paper Co. who says he lost his job after Bain Capital took it private.)
As we have explored before, we can neither prove nor disprove Romney’s previous statement that “tens of thousands of jobs net-net were created.”
Romney’s statement, while technically correct, is lacking crucial context. He compares his four-year record with Obama’s three-year tally and ignores the fact that hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost before Obama’s policies had an impact. He also focuses on his job creation record as a business consultant but does not count the jobs that were lost.
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