Graph: What’s the Baseline for PA’s Job Growth Rate?

Job Growth Rate chartBoth parties are off base when it comes to jobs numbers.

In attacking Gov. Tom Corbett, Democrats have emphasized Pennsylvania’s sinking rank in job creation versus other states. As PoliticsPA found, this is not a useful data point.

Gov. Corbett says he should be judged only the net increase in the number of jobs (private sector jobs specifically). But that, too, misses the mark.

As is often the case, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Pa.’s standing versus other states may not matter, but the percentage of jobs that Pa. adds is an important indicator of growth.

The graph above looks at the growth percentage for each month from 1992 to June, 2013. It is based on the 12-month moving average for each month (so for example, it grew by 0.73% from January 2012 to January 2013, not 0.73% from January 2012 to February 2012).*

The state average rate of job growth from 1992 to June, 2013 was 0.53%.

Gov. Corbett can hang his hat on the fact that so far, job growth during his tenure is well above Pennsylvania’s historical average. The total number of jobs has increased by an average of 0.93% since January 2011 when he took the oath of office.

Democrats can point out that despite a strong year in 2011, the rate of growth has steadily decreased during for most of the Governor’s term and has been around or below average for the past four months. It was 0.49% in June 2013.

All of this presumes that governors have a significant measure of control over the job market and that their actions will work quickly enough to take effect during their tenure. Many economists dispute both premises. But since both parties use these measures in campaign ads and literature, the numbers will continue to be politically relevant.

Just for fun, here is how the Governors fared on this measure:

Tom Corbett (R), Jan. 2011 – Jun. 2013
Average job growth: 0.93%
Best month: 1.24%, Jul. & Sept. 2011
Worst month: 0.42%, Jan. 2011
Second-worst month: 0.49%, Jun. 2013

Ed Rendell (D), Jan. 2003 – Jan. 2011
Average job growth: -0.11%
Best month: 1.07%, Sept. 2005
Worst month: -3.20%, Jan. & Feb., 2011

Mark Schweiker (R), Oct. 2001 – Jan. 2003
Average job growth: -0.65%
Best month: 0.29%, Oct. 2001
Worst month: -0.95%, Aug. 2002

Tom Ridge (R), Jan. 1995 – Oct. 2001
Average job growth: 1.52%
Best month: 1.92%, Nov. 2000
Worst month: 0.51%, Sept. 2001

Bob Casey Sr. (D), Jan. 1992** to Jan. 1995
Average job growth: 0.22%
Best month: 1.36%, Dec. 1994
Worst month: -1.67%, Jan. 1992

Here is a graph showing the job changes in numerical terms:

Job Growth Numbers chart

The numbers come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, via the W.P. Carey School of Business at the University of Arizona. The data are not seasonally adjusted.

*Economists prefer the 12-month moving average of job data because it reduces the impact of outliers and random fluctuations. Rankings in this story will use the TMMA. In their attacks on Gov. Tom Corbett, Democrats have used the more simplistic ‘same month, previous year’ data set.

**ASU does not have pre-1992 data.

Bryan Magee contributed to this report.

July 25th, 2013 | Posted in Governor, Harrisburg, Top Stories | 6 Comments

6 thoughts on “Graph: What’s the Baseline for PA’s Job Growth Rate?”

  1. PAINDY1 says:

    DEAR COS Gromis-Baker (our St. Joan of Arc) and Chairman Rob Gleason: I have a great new idea for you at your Bedford Springs Corbett Conclave this weekend: Why don’t you just shut down Pennsylvania until Obamacare is repealed. PENNSYLVANIA CLOSED FOR BUSINESS! I think you might be able to get Senator Ted Cruz to do the Lincoln Day gig.

  2. PAINDY1 says:

    Dear Mr. Decoursey and Mr. Bumstead: Please bugger yourselves!!! Don’t you understand that Harrisburg was made for Takers!! Prince of Darkness Brabender: Have I finally earned a right to attend the Bedford Springs Resort Conclarve for Tom Corbett’s Round Table? I”m awesome and I don’t want to miss Chairman Gleason’s bonfire and marshmallow roast!!!

  3. PAINDY1 says:

    You BUZZKILL Pete DeCoursey of CAPITOL WIRE: I just received disturbing intelltigence: that the NSA, Eric Holder and Obama’s National Security Council are going to surveill the Bedford Mountains looking for any unusual fire activity, this weekend. Corbett and PAGOP GLEASON TAKERS be careful: and remember your Pennsylvania St. Joan of Arc, COS Gromis Baker, has for some unknown reason an aversion to BONFIRES!! GOD BLESS AMERICA AND OUR WHITE TAXPAYERS!!!

  4. PAINDY1 says:

    Mr. DeCoursey is reporting that the Knight’s of the Corbett Round Table are having a conclave this weekend at the Bedford Springs resort. I am totally excited. Can I finally get my interview with John Brabender? I want so badly to join these Takers!! I’d make a wonderful Turnpike Commissioner. I’d love to hear Pennsylvania’s new Joan of Arc: COS Baker-Gromis speak. Can I stay for the CROSS BURNING and the marshmallow roast? If you see white smoke coming from the resort, don’t get excited like those Catholics, it’s just my Marshmallow burning.

  5. PAINDY1 says:

    Who cares about Jobs when the Governor Corbett and PAGOP Chair Rob Gleason are protecting us against those dangerous black parasites in Philadelphia. WE ALL LOVE THE WHITE FOLK AND LOVING WHITE FOLK PROTECTING OUR WHITE WOMEN AND CHILDREN IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE UNEMPLOYMENT NUMBERS!

  6. Aaron Hartman says:

    Corbett your fired

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