Republican governors, statehouses linked to job creation more than Democrats
Republican governors and GOP-controlled state legislatures presided over 16 percent more job creation than their Democratic counterparts from January 2010 to April 2012, according to a Daily Caller analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) employment data.
April was the most recent month for which online data was available on the BLS. All 50 states experienced job losses through most of 2009; many began recording job gains by the end of that year.
Raw BLS data indicated that since the beginning of 2010 Republicans at the state level oversaw the introduction of nearly 700,000 more jobs into the U.S. economy than Democrats.
TheDC adjusted those numbers because Republicans held power in more states during some months, while Democrats held the advantage at other times. The results indicate that if Republicans and Democrats held equal numbers of governorships and controlled the same number of state legislative houses, Republicans would come out ahead by 200,000 jobs during that 28-month period.
To some degree, President Barack Obama has pinned his re-election hopes on Americans’ perception of his skills as a job creator, saying that job gains since his inauguration were a result of policies he enacted.
“Over the past two years, our businesses have added nearly 4 million new jobs,” the president said in a campaign speech on March 9. “In February , we added 233,000 private-sector jobs.”
But while the White House may swing a sledgehammer at unemployment, state governments wield finer instruments and operate closer to the local economies where employment grows or shrinks. Governors on both the left and the right have laid claim to job gains.
“We created more jobs in Massachusetts than this president’s created in the entire country,” said presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Jan. 3. “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.”
TheDC analyzed the change in monthly employment for all 50 states and determined which party controlled the states’ governments year to year, and to what degree.
Power in some states was split with, for instance, one party controlling the governor’s mansion while the other led both houses of the state legislature. TheDC’s analysis assigned 50-50 responsibility for job gains in those states.
Others had split legislative houses, with one party’s governor holding a veto pen. In those cases, the governor’s party was given credit for “creating” two-thirds of all new jobs reported in the BLS data.
Still other states had governor’s mansions and state legislatures uniformly controlled by one party. Credit for their job gains was assigned to the party in control. This was also the case with Nebraska, whose state legislature is unicameral — it has only one legislative body — and is officially nonpartisan.
Disagreement still exists about whether state governments have more control over job creation than the federal government.
Labor economist James Sherk, a senior policy analyst in labor economics at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told TheDC that, “State policies do affect job growth, but through their role in creating a helpful/harmful business climate — not through direct hiring.”
Ethan Pollack, senior policy adviser at the liberal Economic Policy Institute, charged that most of the rise in overall U.S. employment in 2010 and 2011 was a direct result of the stimulus spending initiated by Obama.
“The biggest contributing factor,” Pollack said, “was the $144 billion states and local governments received” from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Attributing job creation to any federal or state government entity is disputable, cautioned Ted DeHaven, budget analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute. Governments only “influence conditions that create jobs — conditions like a lighter regulatory touch and a lighter tax burden.”
“These types of analyses can be very problematic,” DeHaven said, explaining that at any level — federal, state or local — job creation is a reflection of the business climate employers find themselves in.