“Support a family.”
“Follow your dreams.”
And where will these “one million new jobs” come from? By expanding oil and gas drilling and building new pipelines, says the American Petroleum Institute, an industry lobbying group that paid for the ad campaign, which also has featured in newspapers, on television and on Metro platforms.
Oil companies aren’t the only ones promising jobs if Washington gives them their way. A wide array of businesses are saying they can help solve the country’s unemployment crisis if only the government would roll back some regulations, approve their big mergers or lower their taxes.
Yet the industry often touts debatable jobs numbers. Mergers between big companies, for instance, tend to result in layoffs rather than new positions overall. And a closer look shows that API’s ads exaggerate the effect that looser drilling policies would have on employment; more than half of its projected job growth would come between 2015 and 2030.
Nonetheless, some policymakers and presidential candidates have cited these statistics as they echo companies’ claims about creating jobs.
“We just learned today that if the federal government would pull back on all of the regulatory restrictions on American energy production, we could see 1.2 million jobs created in the United States,” Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) said at a Sep. 7 Republican presidential debate.
In a letter last month to the Justice Department, 100 lawmakers defended the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, repeating the companies’ argument that the government’s lawsuit to stop the deal on antitrust grounds would “thwart job creation and economic growth.”
And a central element in the economic plans of other Republican presidential candidates, such as Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, is to roll back “job-killing” regulations to spur hiring.
“It’s really hard if you’re against regulation to let a good crisis go to waste, and right now we have high unemployment,” said Roger Noll, an economics professor at Stanford University and co-director of the school’s program on regulatory policy. “You can use the current economic condition as a Trojan horse.”
The horses come in different shapes. The coal industry is running ads that show working people weighed down by regulation-filled briefcases being violently thrown from broncos in a rodeo. A new study commissioned by environmental groups, however, says that regulation of coal ash disposal would actually create jobs.
Other company numbers also become fuzzy upon examination.
Big company mergers are widely known to lead to job losses in the short term as firms seek savings, or “synergies” in merger jargon. But that has not stopped AT&T and Capital One, whose proposed mergers have raised antitrust scrutiny, from saying that their acquisitions will result in more jobs.