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