While the Great Recession of 2008 may finally be in the rear-view mirror, unemployment and underemployment remain a high-level and ongoing concern – making three of the top POTUS priorities jobs, jobs, and jobs. So which candidates have the proven track record of creating jobs and economic growth? Using data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), we evaluated the net gain in private-sector jobs created in each state where a Governor-turned-presidential-hopeful serves or served.
By scoring each Governor during his total months served in office, we arrived at a common metric that is meaningful to citizens: the number of jobs created per day as Governor. And the winner is… Governor Jeb Bush, by an impressive margin.
During Governor Bush’s 96 months in office, approximately 1.1 million jobs were created in Florida. When we simplify this to a day-by-day number, it’s about 400 jobs created every day.
Scott Walker’s tenure in Wisconsin produced a quarter of that, or 103 jobs per day. Chris Christie in New Jersey created 91 jobs per day. Mike Huckabee in Arkansas generated only 22 jobs per day.
Now, Bush had certain advantages over Walker and Christie going in to this competition: Florida is a state with an appealing economic climate; like Texas, it levies no personal income tax — which makes each state highly attractive to workers and to the job-creating businesses that employ them. (In Texas, 2.1 million jobs were created during Governor Perry’s 180-month tenure — which also works out to some 400 jobs per day.)
But let’s not be too hard on Huckabee. He outperformed Democratic long-shot challenger to Hillary Clinton, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley by eleven to one. That’s right, O’Malley served for 96 months; during that time, around 5,000 jobs were created in Maryland. That’s just two jobs per day. Compare Maryland’s economic climate with that of Florida and Texas, and you see a dismal picture; in fact, Maryland ranks 11th-worst in the nation on the nonpartisan Tax Foundation’s 2015 State Business Tax Climate Index. O’Malley did nothing to mend Maryland’s reputation as a state that likes high taxes, and as my co-authors and I point out in The Wealth of States: No state has ever taxed its way into prosperity.
The top two performers, Bush and Perry cut numerous taxes over their terms. The bottom performers, like O’Malley, raised taxes 20 times during their term. Over the last four years, Republican Governors as a group cut taxes by $36 billion. Democratic Governors increased taxes by $58 billion since 2011. And we have seen which states are gaining jobs, and which ones are hemorrhaging businesses.
Clearly, a state’s future depends upon the person who leads it, and a leader’s jobs record matters. When it comes to choosing the next President of the United States, that record matters even more.