The central premise of former-Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is that he is a job creator whose private sector success demonstrates his expertise on the economy. “From my first day in office, my No. 1 job will be to see that America once again is No. 1 in job creation,” Romney said on Friday after another dismal U.S. jobs report. It was a line he had also delivered nearly three months earlier — the day he launched his presidential campaign.
This week could prove to be a pivotal one for Romney. On Tuesday he intends to roll out his jobs plan, which presumably will serve as his election manifesto and platform throughout the early nominating contests.
But an analysis of available jobs data for Massachusetts under Romney’s tenure as governor shows Romney may have difficulty selling himself as a job creator at a time when out of work Americans are looking for results.
When Romney took office, there were 3,224,600 nonfarm seasonally adjusted jobs in Massachusetts. When he left office, there were 3,270,400, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (xls).
That means under Romney’s economic policies Massachusetts saw a net gain of only 45,800 jobs; a growth rate of 1.42 percent. Other estimates vary. For example, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development estimates job growth of 51,400 over that period. But in another analysis by Moody’s Economy.com, the number was lower: only 24,400.
That placed Massachusetts 47th among all states in job creation from January 2003 to January 2007. Nonfarm seasonally adjusted jobs across the United States grew by 5.265 percent throughout the entire U.S. The Romney economy in Massachusetts significantly underperformed compared to other states in terms of job creation.
The data are even more problematic when Romney’s record is compared to one of his predecessors, Michael Dukakis. On average Dukakis created roughly 45,209 jobs per year while he served as Governor of the Commonwealth, a total of 497,300 net new jobs from 1976 through 1979 and 1983 through 1991, according to Labor and Workforce. Dukakis, of course, attempted to make this “Massachusetts miracle” a centerpiece of his failed presidential campaign in 1988. His TV ads proudly boasted that he “created over 400,000 jobs…”
By contrast, Romney — who is also making job creation a centerpiece of his presidential campaign — created only an average of 12,850 per year between 2003 and 2007.
In fairness to Romney, he experienced net job losses during his first two years on office. He can argue, not unreasonably, that these two years of job losses came as a result of policies he inherited. This may ring hollow to many Republicans, though, as they have heard something similar from President Barack Obama since the day he took office. Jobs grew modestly during Romney’s last two years in office.
Nevertheless, the data gives Romney’s opponents in both parties plenty of fodder to challenge his contention that he is the “jobs candidate.”
Note: See my response to Team Romney’s response to this post.