Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, in responding to the report that Connecticut’s economy shrank in 2012, putting it in last place in the country, said, in part:
“We need to do better, but listen, I’ll go with the statistic that’s generally agreed on, we’ve created 26,000 private sector jobs in the last two years, the fastest two-year increase going back to the 1990s.”
Today, former gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley blasted the governor’s defense, saying, in part:
More disturbing is that the Governor either does not understand economic data or is lying to the people of Connecticut. Governor Malloy is quoted today as saying, “I’ll go with the statistic that there is general agreement on – that we created 26,000 private-sector jobs in the last two years.”
There certainly is not any agreement on that number, which leaves out the more important fact that Connecticut residents have lost over 30,000 jobs since Governor Malloy took office….
As usual, Governor Malloy devises his “jobs” number by twisting the statistics – something the BEA and BLS do not do. Malloy excludes agricultural jobs and includes Connecticut-based jobs that are going to out-of-state residents. He also only includes private sector jobs. It is certainly convenient for the Governor to exclude public sector employees, farmers or people who work on farms, and jobs that went to out-of-state residents – but it is not the truth.
Governor Malloy has pushed Connecticut’s economy over the cliff and has taken our unfortunate families and businesses along for the ride. It adds insult to injury that he also will not speak truthfully about it.
Those are strong claims. So, as much as I hate to get into refereeing, and this is going to be a lot of numbers for everyone to wade through, I think it’s time to explain how the government tracks job growth, whose side has more spin.
Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases an estimate of net job growth, not only for every state, but in broad categories such as finance and insurance, manufacturing, retail, restaurants and hotels, health care, etc.
That estimate covers all civilian, non-farm jobs. It has never included jobs on the farm, because they can be so fleeting, as migrant workers or teenagers may pick a crop for just a few weeks.
So Foley’s claim that the governor is twisting the numbers by leaving out farm workers is absolutely false. I’ll add that the farm sector in Connecticut is negligible in the size of the state’s economy. Most farms in Connecticut are hobby farms that do not produce enough income to be someone’s main job.
His claim that the governor is wrong to include jobs taken by out-of-state residents (if you read carefully, the release actually attacks him for both including AND excluding them) is also unfair. The report surveys Connecticut businesses on net job growth. It doesn’t ask where the people who have the jobs live. How can the governor control whether workers in Stamford live in New York or in Connecticut? Or whether workers in Enfield live in Agawam or Windsor? Economic development aims to get businesses in a location to expand employment and invest. It rarely puts strings on where the workers have to live.
In 2012, Connecticut added 8,600 jobs. But there were also 1,000 fewer government jobs at the end of the year than at the start. In Connecticut that figure is a bit muddied, because the Indian-run casinos fall under that category, but the bulk of those jobs are town, city, public school district and state government jobs.
So measuring just private sector jobs, growth was 9,600 for the year.
In 2011, Connecticut added 14,300 jobs. There were 1,900 fewer government jobs by the end of the year, so measuring just private sector jobs, growth was 16,200 for the year.
Now, one can make an argument that the total job number is a more useful one than private sector only, but given that Republicans continue to argue that the government sector is bloated, it seems to me you can’t have it both ways. Either you’re for fewer government workers, and therefore would only view private sector growth as desirable, or you’re looking at the whole of opportunities for job seekers, and you look at all net growth.
The governor is not twisting the truth when he says there were 26,000 private sector jobs added in the first two years of his term. There were 25,800, and that extra 200 is a very reasonable rounding choice.
Now, the comparison to past years is where Malloy is guilty of spin.
In 2010, the state added 9,900 jobs, and there were 4,000 fewer government jobs by the end of the year. So private sector growth that year was 13,900.
If you add 2011 and 2010′s private sector job growth together, that was the last time there were more than 26,000 private sector jobs added in a two year period.
Or, if you need both years to be under the same governor, the correct comparison is 2006 and 2007. In 2007, the state added 14,400 jobs, 4,700 of which were government jobs. In 2006, the state added 23,100 jobs, 1,300 of which were government jobs. So that two-year tally of private sector job growth was 31,400.
Foley’s release also attacks the governor for leaving out job losses among Connecticut residents. That’s not accurate. A separate, less precise phone survey of state residents says there are 18,100 fewer residents working in Connecticut at the end of 2012 than there were when the governor took office; if you continue to follow that survey into April, it does get you to about 30,000 fewer workers. (If you include job growth into April, the administration’s job creation will be bigger, too.) But that’s not the same as job losses. Retirements are accelerating among baby boomers — many of those folks left jobs to retire. Some of those people left jobs to stay at home with a child, or an elderly parent. Some of those people left jobs to go to college full-time.
So while both sides are engaging in spin, Foley’s characterization of the state of the job market in Connecticut since January 2011 is much, much more misleading than Malloy’s.