BLUMER: Kasich right, Obama wrong on OH job growth

By   /   September 14, 2012  /   No Comments

By Tom Blumer | Special to Ohio Watchdog

Tom Blumer

President Barack Obama recently attempted to appropriate a large share of the credit for Ohio‘s job growth since Republican Gov. John Kasich took office.

The president and his policies don’t deserve any of the credit and have arguably kept Ohio from improving further.

At the Republican National Convention on Aug. 28, Kasich noted that Ohio is now “fourth in America in job creation, (and) No. 1 in the Midwest” as a percentage of the workforce. He also cited specifics, while lodging a complaint against the incumbent president: “We have grown new jobs by 122,000,” despite how Obama “has given us headwinds.” Additionally, though Kasich didn’t mention it, Ohio’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.2 percent in July was lower than its neighbors.

Obama and his campaign decided not to let Kasich’s reality-based contentions stand without objection. Hearkening back to the alleged fruits of the government-managed bankruptcies and bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler in 2009, the president, speaking in Toledo on Labor Day, countered that “a lot of those jobs are autoworker jobs like yours.”

As blogger Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has noted, that simply isn’t so. Jobs data at the Bureau of Labor Statistics prove it.

The BLS figures in the Motor Vehicle Manufacturing and Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing categories are not seasonally adjusted, so it’s wise to limit direct comparisons of monthly results to the same month in previous years. Doing so, one finds that MVM jobs declined by 1,100 from July 2011 to July 2012, and have increased by only 2,300 since July 2009. MVPM jobs have decreased by 400 and increased by 4,200 during the analogous 12- and 36-month periods. Both areas combined only employ about 70,000 workers, and account for less than 1.5 percent of total employment in the state.

Meanwhile, total employment from July 2011 to July 2012 — again, not seasonally adjusted to allow for equivalent comparison — increased by 101,200 (see Table 6 here). Instead of giving the two vehicle-related sectors disproportionate credit, one could easily argue that they have instead held the state’s economy back a bit.

Morrissey didn’t pick up on another pertinent additional point, namely that GM and Chrysler are not the only auto industry employers in the state. Ford has several Buckeye State plants, has been performing very well and didn’t need a bailout. Honda, whose U.S. operations are headquartered in Marysville, had more than 13,000 Ohio employees as of April 2011. Recovering nicely from Asian weather-related challenges last year, the company’s year-to-date sales through are up by 23 percent over the first eight months of 2011.

If Obama’s sole claim for Ohio’s job-market improvement is pegged to the auto industry, he has no claim at all.