Saturday, July 21, 2012

Republican-controlled States Dominate Job Growth [Updated]

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the June state-by-state jobs numbers on Friday, July 20th.  As I have reported twice before on this blog in April and May, states that are under Republican control ("control" defined as holding at least two out of three of the governorship and the legislative houses) have dominated whatever good news has come on the jobs front since 2009.  The following contrast sums up the results well:
  • When looking at the 50 states plus D.C., out of the top 26 with the best performance on unemployment, 21 are Republican-controlled and only 5 are Democrat-controlled.  
  • Of the bottom 25, 15 are Democrat-controlled and 10 are Republican-controlled.  
Other telling statistics are:
  • The unemployment rate in Democrat-controlled states taken as a group is 9%.
  • The unemployment rate in Republican-controlled states taken as a group is 7.5%.
  • Of the states with the lowest unemployment rates as of June 2012, 9 out of 10 are Republican.
  • The four states with the worst unemployment are under Democrat control.
The raw data I used to compile these statistics is found here.  I would welcome further analysis and/or critiques of my analysis if I have misrepresented any of the data.  But the contrast is stark and clear.  Any improvement in the job situation in this country over Barack Obama's presidency has far more to do with the help he's received from the opposing party at the state level than with any stimulus or policies implemented by the president and his party on a federal level.
    If this election is about the economy as elections usually are, Mitt Romney and the Republicans need to continue to tell this story if the GOP is to recapture the presidency and hold onto the House and, in a best case scenario, win the Senate.  Barack Obama often talks about the government building "roads and bridges" to stimulate job growth and get the economy moving.  But Mark Styen has it right when he said the president has more often built roadblocks than roads.
    It is often said (usually by the party in power when the economy is faltering), "There's really not much the president can do about the economy."  In some ways, that's true.  To go with the road-analogy, if the economy is a runner, there's not much anyone can do to help him run faster.  It's not as if someone can double his speed.  But someone (think Barack Obama) can sure put obstacles in his way and even slow him down or even stop him.  The way to help then becomes removing the obstacles and protecting the runner from interference.
    If we were starting with optimal conditions, the president could not do much to improve the economy - but we're no where near optimal.  Romney should not campaign on "I will create jobs," but rather, "I will remove obstacles keeping the private sector from creating jobs."  Republicans in the states have already shown this can be done.  Now Republicans need to present the case to the American people that putting the Republicans in charge nationally also will accelerate the return to a prosperous economy.  As the analysis above shows, the numbers are on their side.

UPDATE:  As the "right-wing hack" author of this "right-wing rag" referenced in the comments on this article on the Ventura County Star website, I want to stipulate that I am making no claims about the job gains in the month of June 2012, but rather the changes from 2009 to the present.  As noted above, I linked to my raw data so hopefully that gives me some "cred."  Monthly changes are often insignificant or anomalies, but the changes over several years can, and in this case, do tell a significant story.

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