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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Romney Leads With Chin on Jobs

Many have noted the irony of GOP front-runner Mitt Romney having to downplay his most impressive achievement, ‘Romneycare.’ As his attack ads blasting President Obama for weak job-creation begin to appear, however, Romney has an even more troublesome record that he will hide, distort and deny, — his utter failure to create jobs as Governor of Massachusetts.
As Andrew Sum and Joseph McLaughlin, director and research associate respectively of the Center for Market Studies at Northeastern University, noted in a Boston Globe article back in 2007,

…Our analysis reveals a weak comparative economic performance of the state over the Romney years, one of the worst in the country.
On all key labor market measures, the state not only lagged behind the country as a whole, but often ranked at or near the bottom of the state distribution. Formal payroll employment in the state in 2006 was still 16,000 or 0.5 percent below its average level in 2002, the year immediately prior to the start of the Romney administration. Massachusetts ranked third lowest on this key job generation measure and would have ranked second lowest if Hurricane Katrina had not devastated the Louisiana economy. Manufacturing payroll employment throughout the nation declined by nearly 1.1 million or 7 percent between 2002 and 2006, but in Massachusetts it declined by more than 14 percent, the third worst record in the country.
While the number of employed people over age 16 in the United States rose by nearly 8 million, or close to 6 percent, between 2002 and 2006, the number of employed residents in the Commonwealth is estimated to have modestly declined by 8,500. Massachusetts was the only state to have failed to post any gain in its pool of employed residents. The aggregate number of people 16 and older either working or looking for work in Massachusetts fell over the Romney years.
We were one of only two states to have experienced no growth in its resident labor force. Again, without the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina on the dispersal of the Louisiana population, Massachusetts would have ranked last on this measure. The decline in the state’s labor force, which was influenced in large part by high levels of out-migration of working-age adults, helped hold down the official unemployment rate of the state. Between July 2002 and July 2006, the US Census Bureau estimated that 222,000 more residents left Massachusetts for other states than came here to live. This high level of net domestic out-migration was equivalent to 3.5 percent of the state’s population, the third highest rate of population loss in the country. Excluding the population displacement effects of Hurricane Katrina on Louisiana, Massachusetts would have ranked second highest on this measure. We were a national leader in exporting our population.

The authors go on to note an equally-dismal litany of related economic statistics from Romney’s tenure regarding productivity, income, housing prices and outmigration. As the authors conclude, “Jokes about Massachusetts may receive some half-hearted laughter on the national campaign trail, but few working men and women in Massachusetts should see anything funny about the state’s lackluster economic performance during the Romney years..”
It’s not just his record in elective office. Writing in today’s edition of the Washington Monthly, Steve Benen notes in “The Jobs Issue is Romney’s Weakest issue” that Romney’s much-trumpeted success as a businessman (hedge funds) does not exactly merit kudos for job-creation:

Romney slashed American jobs as if his career depended on it — and it did. Indeed, it’s tempting to wonder how many of those folks in Romney’s new web ad, waiting in the unemployment line, were put there by Romney’s hedge fund?…Romney should also be aware of the fact that the more his campaign focuses on employment, the more Romney leads with his chin. Put simply, the jobs issue is Romney’s weakest issue…The more he pushes this, the more the public should be reminded of Romney’s atrocious record.

Before campaign 2012 is over, Romney may well become the new poster-boy for political denial — with his dodgy record on jobs as exhibit “A.”

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