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.”