By Travis Waldron
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is focusing the early part of his presidential campaign on the economy, slamming Obama’s performance while touting himself as an experienced job creator. But while he assigns Obama a failing grade on his job performance thus far, reports from his time as governor show that Romney’s record as a job creator isn’t as strong as he would like voters to think.
Massachusetts, which Romney governed from 2003-2007, ranked 47th among the 50 states in job creation numbers during his tenure.
Romney will officially launch his campaign later today in New Hampshire, again blaming Obama for having “failed America.” At campaign stops in Columbia, SC, and Des Moines, IA, over the past two weeks, Romney has consistently bemoaned lagging economic numbers during Obama’s time in office. ThinkProgress was in Des Moines Friday, when Romney told a crowd at the Des Moines Historical Building that Obama couldn’t manage an economic recovery because he has never had a real job:
ROMNEY: Our economy hasn’t returned to full employment like it should have. We’ve seen the slowest job recovery since Hoover. … What’s wrong is that this president put in place a series of economic steps that didn’t work. His agenda failed because he doesn’t understand how the economy works. It’s time to have a president who understands how to create jobs because he’s had one and knows how the economy works for the American people.What Romney leaves out of his stump speech, however, is just how bad his state’s job creation statistics were during his four years as governor. Different job creation studies rank Massachusetts in the bottom four states during Romney’s administration. A study by the independent think tank MassINC ranked the state 49th in job creation from 2001-2007, ahead of only Michigan. And according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Massachusetts ranked 47th, ahead of only Michigan, Ohio, and Louisiana. Michigan and Ohio, both located in the Rust Belt, faced heavy job losses due to the flight of manufacturing jobs from the Midwest. Louisiana, meanwhile, lost hundreds of thousands of jobs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
During Romney’s period as governor, Massachusetts’ job growth was just 0.9 percent, well behind other high-wage, high-skill economies in New York (2.7), California (4.7), and North Carolina (7.6). The national average, meanwhile, was better than 5 percent.
Andrew Sum, an economist at Northeastern University, researched Romney’s job record and found that Massachusetts lagged on virtually every economic indicator during his time in office, as he told Reuters in 2008:
“As a strict labor market economist looking at the record, Massachusetts did very poorly during the Romney years“, he said. “On every measure you’ve got, the state was a substantial under-performer.”As Pat Garofalo notes, Romney’s record in the private sector is equally unimpressive.
Romney blames the poor job numbers on Democrats in the Massachusetts state legislature. But since its economy faltered in 2008 and 2009, Massachusetts has rebounded in the job creation ranks, emerging from the recession with some of the nation’s strongest job numbers. Under current Gov. Deval Patrick (D) — and a legislature still controlled by Democrats — the state experienced 4.2 percent job growth in the first quarter of 2011, better than twice the national average and good enough to rank in the top 10 nationally. That followed a year of solid growth in 2010, when Massachusetts was among the nation’s leaders in job growth.