It took Donald Trump a while to get to the part of his vice-presidential announcement speech where he actually announced his running mate, but once he did, he was effusive.
"Incredible family. Highly respected," Trump said before launching into praise of Mike Pence's performance since becoming Indiana's governor in 2013.
"Indiana, their unemployment rate has fallen, when he was there, when he started, 8.4 percent when he was governor, when he took over, to less than 5 percent in May of 2016," Trump said. "Since January 2013, Indiana's labor force has increased by more than 186,000 jobs. You have to understand, I've gone around to all these states. I've gone to all of them. And every time, I have statisticians. I say give me the stats on a state. And it's always bad, down, down, down. Down 40 percent, 50 percent, 60 percent in some cases. Here's somebody where it's gone up. Private sector job growth is up by more than 147,000 jobs since 2013. That's like very unusual."
The unemployment rate in Indiana has indeed dropped steadily since 2013 — but the trend began before then. In fact, far from being "very unusual," Indiana's change in employment is pretty squarely in line with the rest of the United States.
If we map the state's unemployment to the country's, you can see how the two have risen and fallen in remarkable sync. Indiana's was higher than the country as a whole in 2010, in the wake of the Great Recession. But when Pence took office, it was only a little higher.
We can see the comparison more easily by looking at the change in the unemployment rate over time. Relative to the unemployment rate in January 2013, Indiana's unemployment and the country's have been very similar. Under Pence, the rate did fall slightly faster than the national rate — until an uptick in recent months. Trump praised the Indiana unemployment rate in May of this year, but that rate was slightly higher (5 percent) than it was last September (4.5 percent), according to the Federal Reserve.
The change in the state's rate of employment is similar to the national change. The country as a whole has added a lot more jobs simply because it's bigger, but the country has added jobs at a slightly higher rate than Indiana, relative to when Pence took office.
Over the past year, there is no state where unemployment is down anywhere close to 40 percent. In only six states is employment down, including North Dakota and Wyoming (hurt in part by the oil market turmoil) where employment was down about 3 percent. Indiana's employment was up 1.3 percent over the past year; the national median for states was 1.3 percent.
Unemployment declines are good. Employment is good. Indiana, in these regards, is not remarkable.