Georgia Dems falsely claim Deal lags in job creation


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Today’s Augusta Chronicle brings us us dire news that Georgia ranks 49th in job creation since Nathan Deal took office as Governor, and reprints portions of a screed press release by the Georgia Democratic Party scouring Deal’s teeth for “avoiding responsibility for the lack of job creation and criticizing any plans that aren’t their own to jump start the economy.”

The Augusta Chronicle writes that Georgia is 49th in job creation but doesn’t source that assertion; I wondered was where they got that number. The answer is that they got it from the Democratic Party’s press release. Looking for where the GDP got it, I started with Google but the first three pages of results were almost entirely press releases and rehashes of this assertion by Mike Berlon, Chairman of the GDP without attribution.

Looking closer proves that the Democrats are using one set of questionable data to make a political point while ignoring other data that show a better environment for job creation, and the media are accepting their soft numbers as fact.

I searched through the GDP’s press releases looking for attribution of their numbers. The closest I could find was the Democrats’ press release of September 8, 2011, in which what they actually state is that “Georgia ranked #49 out of 50 states in job creation for the month of July and is ranked #47 in the nation over the past five year period” and linking to a pair of Atlanta Business Chronicle articles. They actually screwed that up, because the article talking about July actually ranked Georgia #50, that’s right, dead last.

But that’s not the only way of measuring Georgia’s job creation. In August, Gallup released a listing of states ranked by job creation that placed Georgia in the top ten states for net job creation and second in the region behind #8 South Carolina. This was the first time Georgia ranked in the top ten by this measure of job creation.

Surely, we can assume that the U.S. Department of Labor’s numbers are more accurate than those of an opinion research company, right? Wrong. Because the USDOL’s numbers are based on a survey of households, not employers, and not some super-accurate government data system. USDOL surveys 60,000 and Gallup surveys 100,000. There are undoubtedly differences in questionnaire construction and methodology, but the basic data collection scheme is the same. There is no reason to believe that the DOL numbers are any more or less reliable than those reported by Gallup. But the Georgia Democrats preference for government figures over those provided by a private, for-profit company is consistent with their preference for government hiring over the private sector as a driver of job creation.

So whose data is more accurate? I don’t know. But neither does the Georgia Democratic Party nor the Augusta Chronicle. I can’t fault the GDP for using data that is unfavorable to Georgia Republicans and ignoring contradictory data. But I do fault the Augusta Chronicle for reporting it as fact, ignoring that the DOL’s numbers are not “hard” numbers but aggregate consumer survey data, and reporting it as written-in-stone fact. The Augusta Chronicle is not alone in their uncritical reporting of USDOL numbers, as the Atlanta Business Chronicle also reports it as fact, and not as results from consumer survey research.

The plural of anecdote is not “data” but here’s some of both

Earlier this week, I forwarded to the Peach Pundit offline discussions a press release from the Governor’s Office announcing hundreds of new jobs and asked, “is it just me or does the pace of these announcements seem to be increasing?” So I decided to review all the 2011 job creation announcements made by Deal’s press office. I totalled up the new job announcements by the Deal administration, and also looked at what they say they’re doing about job creation to test the Democratic party’s statement reported by the Augusta Chronicle.

“We used to be an economic engine that drove the region. Now, we are nothing more than a caboose,” said Eric Gray, the communications director for the Georgia Democratic Party.

Georgia is one of only seven states to lose jobs in 2011, he said, and has lost 8,200 jobs so far. Deal made promises on his campaign to “kick-start the economy,” but the results aren’t there, Gray said.

“I challenge him to show us where those jobs are,” Gray said.

From January 2011 through this week, the Governor’s Press Office has announced the creation of 6886 new jobs and the retention of 1375, for a total of 8261 jobs created or retained this year. Of course there have unquestionably been job losses, but the notion that the Deal administration is sitting on its hands, or worse, failing to address job creation is untrue.

In January, Deal launched a Competitive Initiative partnering with the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, which was organized in April and started working to attract new jobs.

Deal’s April announcement of 1000 new jobs from Kia’s decision to produce the Optima in West Point highlighted the role of infrastructure and the Port of Savannah in job creation.

In June, Deal announced the award of $8 million in OneGeorgia grants projected to create 1612 jobs and retain 1375 jobs in Georgia over three years.

Just this week Deal announced 700 new jobs to be brought to Cobb County as well as his support for repealing the state sales tax on energy used in manufacturing.

Two competing visions for job creation

I believe that government’s role in job creation is often overstated. There is no magic wand a state can wave that magically creates jobs, and the only direct tool the government has –hiring more government workers– can be a drag on the economy. What government can do is to get out of the way by reducing hurdles to business growth and job creation and highlight to companies consider locating here our business environment, which is conducive to growth. I believe this is a fair statement of the beliefs of most Republicans and of Governor Deal’s administration, though I speak officially for neither group.

The Georgia Democratic Party has a different vision that relies on government hiring and on government manipulation of the market to “create” green jobs through subsidizing companies that cannot make it without government handouts. Eric Gray’s statement on behalf of the GDP that “Deal should be hiring more teachers, police officers and firefighters, and urging Georgia businesses to create ‘green’ jobs, [and]  bringing in federal funding” betrays the GDP’s reliance on government to create jobs.

Dems wrong on the facts, wrong on their vision for job creation

The US Department of Labor numbers paint a bleak picture of job creation in Georgia over the first six months of this year, but they’re only one sketch of the situation; other credible numbers paint a picture of net job growth that leads the nation. In assessing the credibility of these competing numbers understand that neither set of data is unquestionably valid and that both rely on surveys of consumers. To suggest from one set of numbers that the Deal administration is either doing nothing about job creation or failing is false and the only alternative the Democrats propose is more government spending which inevitably leads to higher taxes, a less business-conducive environment and further erosion of private-sector employment.

According to the Augusta Chronicle article:

Lowell Greenbaum, the chairman of the county party, said what Gray said will play a major role in the next governor’s election

“It’s shocking that we’re 49th,” Greenbaum said. “Once industries see that Georgia is ranking so low, they’re going to get suspicious that something is wrong with the area in general.”

What’s shocking is that the Georgia Democrats are willing to put talking point for the 2014 election ahead of Georgia’s economy by spreading questionable numbers about Georgia.

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24 comments

  1. David C says:

    Via Gallup:

    “Gallup asks those who are employed whether their companies are hiring workers and expanding the size of their labor forces, not changing the size of their workforces, or laying off workers and reducing their workforces. The figures reported here represent the net difference between the percentage reporting an expansion and the percentage reporting a reduction in their workforces.”

    So, Gallup’s index is between those businesses saying they’re hiring and those saying they’re letting go. That’s how you get a score of “4” rather than say, an actual number of jobs. BLS deals with actual employment numbers, so it matters if you’re hiring 4 or 400,000. For Gallup it doesn’t. To me, that’s a better way to survey state unemployment data. Moreover, that makes sense in the context: Georgia’s currently on a 10.3% unemployment rate, more than a full percentage point behind the national average. (See: http://bls.gov/lau/)

    Also, What you actually link to is a press release about the national employment data, that mentions both household and establishment surveys. You’d notice if you, say, looked at the most recent BLS release that the data on state level employment (that is, jobs created or lost) is from establishment data, not household surveys. Those are used for the labor force / unemployment rate (See: http://bls.gov/news.release/pdf/laus.pdf)

    In addition, checking out press releases from the Governor to boost job creation claims is silly. Every governor likes to tout this or that new business or opening, but the hard business of creating jobs for a state with a labor force of 4,732,219 and 487,471 unemployed (See: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LASST13000003) is done by more than just the 8261 that Deal claims to have retained or saved. To pretend that saying “the rate of press releases is increasing” means a recovery in Georgia is underway is to pretend that jobs are created by magic from the Governor’s press flacks. They also aren’t created by cherry picking and misinterpreting data to refute solid facts.

    • Todd Rehm says:

      From BLS:

      Where do the statistics come from?
      Because unemployment insurance records relate only to persons who have applied for such benefits, and because it is impractical to actually count every unemployed person each month, the Government conducts a monthly sample survey called the Current Population Survey (CPS) to measure the extent of unemployment in the country.

      and:

      The concepts and definitions underlying LAUS data come from the Current Population Survey (CPS), the household survey that is the official measure of the labor force for the nation. State monthly model estimates are controlled in “real time” to sum to national monthly labor force estimates from the CPS. These models combine current and historical data from the CPS, the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program, and State unemployment insurance (UI) systems.

      • David C says:

        Let’s repeat ourselves, shall we?

        “Employment—from the CES program

        Definitions. Employment data refer to persons on establishment payrolls who receive pay for any part of the pay period that includes the 12th of the month. Persons are
        counted at their place of work rather than at their place of residence; those appearing on more than one payroll are counted on each payroll. Industries are classified on the basis of their principal activity in accordance with the 2007 version of the North American Industry Classification System.”

        This is, as opposed to:

        “Labor force and unemployment—from the LAUS program

        Definitions. The labor force and unemployment data are based on the same concepts and definitions as those used for the official national estimates obtained from the Current
        Population Survey (CPS), a sample survey of households that is conducted for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by the U.S. Census Bureau. The LAUS program measures
        employment and unemployment on a place-of-residence basis. The universe for each is the civilian noninstitutional population 16 years of age and over. Employed persons are
        those who did any work at all for pay or profit in the reference week (the week including the 12th of the month) or worked 15 hours or more without pay in a family business or
        farm, plus those not working who had a job from which they were temporarily absent, whether or not paid, for such reasons as labor-management dispute, illness, or vacation.
        Unemployed persons are those who were not employed during the reference week (based on the definition above), had actively looked for a job sometime in the 4-week period
        ending with the reference week, and were currently available for work; persons on layoff expecting recall need not be looking for work to be counted as unemployed. The labor
        force is the sum of employed and unemployed persons. The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed as a percent of the labor force.”

        What the GA Dems are citing is the Employment figures, from the CES Data, not the Unemployment / Labor Force Figures, from the LAUS data you point to.

        The employment data is seen in the press release tables B and C, as opposed to the unemployment rate, seen in Table A.

        The latter is, by necessity, done through household surveys, as it tracks statistics out of the general population: the size of the labor force (those employed or seeking employment) and the number of those unemployed (lacking work but seeking it, as opposed to those like say, students, retired, or homemakers who are not). It’s really not that hard to understand the difference.

    • Todd Rehm says:

      “In addition, checking out press releases from the Governor to boost job creation claims is silly. Every governor likes to tout this or that new business or opening, but the hard business of creating jobs for a state with a labor force of 4,732,219 and 487,471 unemployed is done by more than just the 8261 that Deal claims to have retained or saved….They also aren’t created by cherry picking and misinterpreting data to refute solid facts.”

      I didn’t suggest that 8261 jobs is the best measure. I admit in the header that it’s anecdotal.

      I chose to use that information for a couple reasons. First, it is easy-accessible and easy-to-understand. Yes, politicians like to claim credit for the moon. But some information is better than none.

      I state above my belief that an elected official seeking to spur job growth has limited direct tools. Because of that, it’s hard to measure a politician’s effectiveness. Did the Pizza Hut add an extra driver because of something the Gov did? Who knows.

      But I think that the press releases probably indicate instances in which the Gov’s office, Economic Development officials, etc., were part of the presentation of trying to attract the business or facility, and so they provide some measure of jobs in which the executive branch had some role and deserves some credit. What would you suggest as a better measure?

      Sure, I cherry pick facts. Just like I cherry pick the photos I choose to show, and the video segments that get edited into the final project. But I hardly feel responsible for presenting every imaginable fact or quasi-fact that someone else may think relevant. Sometimes I cherry pick facts that are helpful and sometimes ones that aren’t particularly helpful but must be acknowledged.

      • David C says:

        Here’s the thing though: This isn’t really presenting “every imaginable fact.” Rather, it’s either being willfully ignorant or deliberately misleading. The post not only demonstrates a lack of understanding of the information backing up the press release, it goes out of its way to find a “job creation index” that is a rather poor substitute. If the whole job is to refute a press release, the author at least owes it to his audience to, you know, understand what he’s refuting.

  2. Three Jack says:

    “What government can do is to get out of the way by reducing hurdles to business growth and job creation and highlight to companies consider locating here our business environment, which is conducive to growth.”

    agreed that is what government should do. but in the case of deal, i can’t recall anything he has done to support this notion. in fact, one could argue by signing hb87 he did the exact opposite…more hurdles to business growth (operation) and job creation.

    • David C says:

      I’d also say on the state level there’s a lot local governments can do. Good transportation, a smarter work force and attractive schools, good policing and public safety. The basics can make a difference for a company looking to expand or relocate, or a small business looking to get off the ground. It’s not all tax credits and business regulations.

  3. Harry says:

    Things are looking up for Georgia employment – going by various announcements from employers this week. I’m personally aware of an in-state medium-sized job-creating deal (involving 25-50 employees initially) that’s being seriously vetted. I’m sure there are others.

  4. ckingtruth says:

    Things may be looking up, but can we attribute it to Deal or to local officials working their tales off to bring jobs. With our unemployment number so high, how can Deal or his staff brag?

  5. 22bons says:

    None of the employment, payroll, or unemployment stats are perfect. To get a full picture you need to look at each and know precisely what they are and aren’t measuring, and you need to do this over time. It’s panel data, and it’s inherently complicated.

    I find the BLS’ “Local Area Unemployment Statistics Map” a useful tool for relative comparisons between states. Google that, select “12 month net change” and then click “draw map”. We’ve got a long ways to go, but relative to other states Georgia is certainly doing better than Democrats claim.

  6. SallyForth says:

    Geez, my eyes glazed over reading all this statistical stuff. I think the bottom line is that people need jobs to, like G W Bush said, “to put food on their family.” Instead, what we’ve got is a food fight between Repubs and Dems, while big bidness continues to abolish American jobs, send them overseas, and fatten their executive bonuses at the end of each year. Until all politicians, regardless of party, get the gumption to put some teeth into laws and take away all the tax give-aways to the job destroyers, I sadly don’t see things getting much better.

  7. greencracker says:

    BREAKING NEWS:
    Press release not totally accurate

    BREAKING NEWS:
    Newspaper churns press release and calls it an article

    (Tho in her defense, it’s pretty clear that she’s presenting “hey, here’s what dems said at their meeting today,” not “here’s a detailed feature that took a long time to research about job growth.”)

  8. rense says:

    “But the Georgia Democrats preference for government figures over those provided by a private, for-profit company is consistent with their preference for government hiring over the private sector as a driver of job creation.”

    Kid, sometimes you scare me. You really do.

  9. ArtfulDodger says:

    Since the unemployment numbers are essentially the same now and a year ago it would appear the net jobs created is actually near zero. The number being quoted may show new jobs created but ignore job lost through continued layoffs by both business and government. In either case I don’t see anything Deal has done that would effect job creation in or job loss. At worst the state legislature by cutting spending on infrastructure and education is making the economy worse. The TIA tax to be voited on next year barely makes a dent in the necessary transportation infrastructure needed to move Georgia forward. Georgia already ranks low in education acheivement yet the legislature does nothing to improve it. Unfortunately right now the Republican party controls the legislature and Governor’s mansion and show no inclination to do what is necessary to put Georgia in a strong postion to grow its economy in the future. At worst they seem more concerned about giving or saving tax breaks to businesses that lobbied for their breaks and barely benefit most Georgians. The most egregious breaks are those for Georgia Power with the worst being the one that allows them to pass on the huge business risk of building two nuclear power plants of dubious value to Georgia to the citizens of Georgia when they plants still have not received permits or loan guarantees from private lenders. Untilwe get legislators who actually understands their role to work for the benefit of all Georgians and not just business we will have problems getting back our strong position in the region.

  10. rense says:

    “Georgia already ranks low in education acheivement yet the legislature does nothing to improve it.”

    Oh please. When Democrats ran this state, they spent tons of money on education. Georgia used to spend more on education than any state in the southeast, and especially in the Deep South. The fixes that you want for Georgia education won’t work. The reason for Georgia’s low education numbers is culture. A significant portion of Georgia’s population does not value education. Also, even among those who do value education, the competitive/excellence mentality is absent. So, combine the lack of value on education that exists in (for example) the midwest and the lack of the “compete to be the best” drive that exists in (for example) the northeast, and Georgia is the result.

    The only thing that you can do in a cultural landscape like that is to A. segregate the (small) percentage of the population that does value education from the rest and work to instill a “be the best” mindset in them and B. give the rest vocational/skills training. Unfortunately, the “No Child Left Behind” (even those who don’t care enough about their education or their futures to try) mentality keeps us from taking that approach. Instead, we maintain the pretense that if we can just lower class sizes and pay teachers $70,000 a year, then we can somehow motivate/push/prod/cajole/brainwash kids from an anti-education family situation and cultural background into caring about literature and algebra, despite this approach having failed everywhere it has been tried for going on 50 years.

    If the Georgia GOP is to be blamed for anything, it is their being unwilling to expend the political capital required to put in an educational system that actually would produce the best results based on reality. If the GOP was like the Democrats – ideologically blinded – at least they would have an excuse. Instead, the problem is that though the GOP knows about the cultural issues, they refuse to do work on education reform in light of it. They’d rather just push school choice schemes, which don’t work precisely because you can’t turn anybody away … i.e. charter schools aren’t allowed to pick the best students based on academic and discipline records, but instead they have to do first come/first served or fill spots by lottery.

    Real education reform would emphasize magnet schools and vocational training, and it could be done for about the same amount of money that we are spending now. But such an approach would be the last thing that you’d want.

    • John Konop says:

      I agree, in solving a problem we must first indentify key problems. And we must than focus on a solutions that help first solve the key problems. Finally we must realize no matter what we do kids will fall through the cracks.

      Key Problems:

      1) Drop-out rate
      2) Students graduating with no skills for a job, ill prepared for higher education or GED.

      Solutions:

      1) Promote an academy tracking system for students like we are doing in Cherokee over the one size fit all failed No Child Left Behind policy.
      2) Eliminate the irrational teach to the test score based system promoted through No Child left behind. Replace it with a pass fail system on competency similar to the bar examination, CPA……. The score improvement system creates irrational behavior.
      3) Grade schools and teachers on graduation rates with student skills for jobs and or placement rates into college.
      4) Eliminate 20% of administrative overhead and put the money into the classroom by decreasing the irrational teach to the test tracking system via No Child Left Behind
      5) Promote a co-op system in high school with the business community giving students real work experience.
      6) Consolidate administrative overhead between the high schools and colleges/trade schools and let them create requirements for graduation and or certificates. Joint enrollment style education should be the norm not the exception. Also resources should also be shared between 9-12 and higher education.
      7) Promote use of the internet education to bridge gap via transportation issues.

      Nothing I have suggested will solve the social problems schools inherit via broken homes, poverty………………… The school’s job is to provide opportunities not solve family and society issues. And by providing and focusing on opportunities that in itself will help future generations and jobs,jobs……..

  11. GAPolitico says:

    Between Berlon and Gray (and others), the DPG has finally gotten some backbone and started calling out Deal and the Republicans for the complete and total lack of doing anything to fix this economy. Georgia’s unemployment rate has continued to go up while America’s has stayed the same or went down.

    You Republicans had better be running scared. Eventually, people will weed through these b/s campaigning y’all do. When people don’t have a job, they have a lot more time to get informed on the issues. You all keep putting people out of work and favor big business and you will quickly learn how to lose elections.

    • KD_fiscal conservative says:

      Eventually, people will weed through these b/s campaigning y’all do.

      Not if they just pin all the problems on the usual Repub. bogey men, you know, immigrants, mesicans, abortion, and teh gay….its worked before, and will work in the future. You modern day GA-Dems better get on board, just like yalls “Southern Dem” predecessors did. They knew how to win elections down here(promise free stuff, never to raise taxes, all the social stuff too), but, you guys think you can win elections running as liberals….its not going to work out side of the gerrymandered metro Atlanta districts.

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