Despite evidence, Gov. Corbett denies Pennsylvania’s massive drop in job growth

corbettWhile a guest on a Pennsylvania radio show recently, Gov. Tom Corbett attempted to combat the talking point which says the state has suffered in job creation under his watch—and that our ranking gone from 7th all the way to 46th when compared with the 49 other states.

“He’s wrong,” Corbett said of a person who submitted a question which blamed the governor for the heavy drop. “He’s absolutely wrong. We’ve created over 136,000 private sector jobs in Pennsylvania since I took office, and the numbers that they were using were numbers, I think…out of Arizona, and they’re way off.”

Except. Those numbers compiled from W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, which have consistently shown Pennsylvania falling in job growth when compared to other states, have told a consistent story for over a year. PoliticsPA has shown us how the ASU numbers were determined:

The ranking is determined using the percentage of new jobs created in one month on a twelve month moving average. Pa. ranked 40th in the nation in June 2012 and was 6th in January 2011, the month Gov. Tom Corbett took the oath of office.

That we’ve fallen so heavily partially has to do with our high ranking when Corbett took office. Pennsylvania received a large amount of stimulus cash and was able to stay afloat through the worst of the Great Recession, especially as it pertains to the public sector.

But the stimulus money dried up and Corbett came into office with the promise of not making any of that money up. To make matters worse, as noted by a Keystone Politics blog earlier this summer:

They claimed that slashing public sector jobs, rather than much weaker claims on the budget like the $3 billion we spend annually on fossil fuel subsidies, would unburden the Job Creators and spur a robust economic recovery in the private sector.

That did not happen. The growth rate has predictably slowed as a result of the Republican policies. We had stronger growth than most states while the Ed Rendell policies were still in the bloodstream. Once the Corbett policies started taking effect, about a year into his term, private sector job growth stalled…

Still, Corbett continues denying the ASU figures while using separate stats (private sector numeric gains, which have become the most important, and only important, gains under his rule) which, as it happens, don’t prove his original statement—that those who claim the drop in job creation are “absolutely wrong.”

Corbett’s favorite claim — the one about private sector jobs — is something he’s touted all over the unofficial, and official, campaign trail. His first commercial emphasized private sector job growth in Pennsylvania, as does his standard stump speech. During an address at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference this year, Corbett implied that he is an important figure in Pennsylvania history, because he came into office and said, “Whoa, we don’t have that money [that we've been spending.]” He also noted that Pennsylvania is on the “brink of an economic revolution.”

And the thing is, as Third and State, a blog of the left-leaning Keystone Research Center, noted earlier this year, “Even if you restrict your analysis to the private sector, Pennsylvania’s private-sector job growth has almost stalled since about a year into the Governor’s term.”

According to emails the Corbett campaign has released to potential supporters, it’s claimed that we have created the second-highest number of jobs in the nation—though those numbers fail to put the size of the state into perspective.

Even more recently, the Keystone Research Center has laid out those ASU numbers (and shown them to be correct), as well as given a bit more perspective on this whole thing — like how Pennsylvania’ recovery over the last three recessions (1990, 2001 and 2008) were a bit better than this one, when compared to the rest of the U.S. It looks like this:


And as they note,

In the years since 2010, public policy has reversed course as both federal and Pennsylvania policymakers have taken steps that have weakened job growth and slowed the pace of the decline in unemployment. In fact, as we note in the State of Working Pennsylvania, the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania fell six-tenths of one percentage point between January 2010 and January 2011 (from 8.6% to 8%), but it has taken another two-and-a-half years for the rate to fall another half a percentage point, to 7.5%.

Policymakers chose a path that kept unemployment higher than it would otherwise be, which in turn has depressed the growth in wages and fueled the shocking rise in inequality we have witnessed since 2009.

Back to that phone call: Democrats have jumped on it to knock the governor, as expected. And not so much on Corbett’s denial, but his very Corbett-ish statement after said denial:

“We have a counter to that,” he said. “I just don’t have it here off the top of my head.”

One Response to “ Despite evidence, Gov. Corbett denies Pennsylvania’s massive drop in job growth ”

  1. Watching and Waiting says:

    The problem is the state’s job creation performance has been far greater than most states.

    “Job growth” is a rate calculation, meaning it’s based upon a prior level of jobs and job creation compared to the current level of jobs and job creation.

    Post-recession, after a state had dropped in its overall job total, even a modest amount of new jobs would create the appearance of significant job growth. That’s what took place in PA just prior to Corbett taking office – federal stimulus dollars created a bump up in jobs – which only lasted as long as the federal stimulus funds were available.

    Once those funds were gone, so were the jobs they temporarily created; take away the stimulus-supported jobs, and job growth under Rendell is abysmal compared to job growth under Corbett. Some will argue that the same took place in other states, so PA’s drop in job growth compared to other states is still notable.

    It is until you control for how much worse off those states were, post-recession and post-stimulus. As previously noted, when you have a much bigger hole out of which to climb, even small improvements appear significant when measuring them by a growth rate calculation.

    If you look at total jobs created, 25 to 30 of the states that are ahead of us in “growth rate” didn’t come close to creating the number of jobs PA has created, for whatever snapshot of time you wish to pick.

    The facts are that PA’s unemployment rate is at its lowest point since the recession, and that’s with PA’s civilian labor force being at just about its highest point ever in the history of the state. The federal government can’t say the same for the national unemployment rate, which, while it has dropped, is due more to the vast number of people who have chosen to stop working and looking for a job (labor market participation is at a near-30 year low), than it is to the paltry job creation totals each month.

    Has PA had a stellar performance with regard to job creation? No.

    However, there are at least 25-30 states that have created even fewer jobs than PA.

    When the nation can’t create more than about 135,000 new jobs a month (the last few months) – that’s all 50 states, or about 2,700 jobs per state – it puts things in better perspective when PA adds 19,100 jobs one month (June) and then loses 1,900 jobs the next month (July).

    Sorry, you’re bogus “job growth rate” argument just doesn’t hold up to the reality of the performance of the current national labor market, or with how PA compares to other states in total job creation.

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