By Tom Blumer | Special to Ohio Watchdog
The Toledo Blade politics writer Tom Troy leads readers to believe that Democrats led by incumbent President Barack Obama and Republicans led by Buckeye State Gov. John Kasich can claim roughly equal credit for Ohio’s economic improvement.
But that’s not true.
Democrats frame their argument from January 2009, when Obama was inaugurated, while conveniently forgetting that party member Ted Strickland became Ohio’s governor in January 2007.
Ohio Republicans reasonably work from December 2010, a few days before Kasich took office.
Troy made two core claims about Ohio’s economic situation:
- First, “The comeback started under Mr. Kasich’s predecessor and picked up steam since Governor Kasich took office.”
- Second, the federal government-orchestrated bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler have “coincided with Ohio’s comeback.”
Troy conveniently omitted the 175,000 jobs lost, according to the federal government’s Establishment Survey, during Strickland’s first two years in office, and an unemployment rate per its Household Survey which rose during that time from 5.4 percent to 8.1 percent. (All figures in the post are seasonally adjusted unless otherwise indicated).
The carnage continued well after Obama was elected president. Ohio shed another 250,000 jobs during 2009; unemployment rose to 10.6 percent. In that full context, characterizing what occurred in 2010 during Strickland’s final year — a mere 55,000 jobs added, or about 4,600 per month, paired with a December unemployment rate of 9.2 percent — as constituting the legitimate beginning of a “comeback” is ludicrous.
Beyond that, Strickland dumped a projected $8 billion deficit and a fresh Standard & Poor’s credit downgrade of the state’s debt on Kasich’s lap. Since Kasich took office, Ohio has gained 137,000 jobs, or more than 8,000 per month, while the state’s unemployment rate has fallen to 7.2 percent, almost a full point below the national average of 8.1 percent.
To support his argument about the timing of the recovery and the efficacy of the auto company bailouts, Troy engaged in misdirection: “A month-by-month look at labor statistics shows that Ohio’s job loss bottomed out in January, 2009.”
Many readers will likely take Troy’s sentence to mean that the state stopped losing jobs. It didn’t. Although no month which followed was as catastrophic as January’s 48,800-job decline, job losses during the rest of the year totaling more than 200,000 continued uninterrupted for the next 11 months. Troy’s assertion that the January 2009 loss was 25,851 is incorrect and doesn’t even tie to the Household Survey, which is used primarily to gauge the unemployment rate and not job growth. The first employment pickup in January 2011 occurred during the sixth and seventh months, respectively, after GM and Chrysler left bankruptcy. Where’s the “coincidence,” Tom?
Additionally, as I demonstrated on Ohio Watchdog last week, direct employment (not seasonally adjusted) in vehicle manufacturing and auto parts manufacturing, which make up a tiny combined percentage of the state’s workforce, has barely budged since the bailouts, while both categories have seen small employment declines in the past 12 months. Thus, no one can directly trace any improvement in the state’s job market to the auto industry.
As to the roughly 850,000 total jobs supposedly tied to the auto industry directly and “indirectly,” the Ohio Democratic Party’s official response to Kasich’s Republican National Convention speech would only say that “the auto rescue helped to protect” them. That’s because there is no proof that the bailouts contributed in any meaningful way to statewide job growth.
Finally, one can’t help but notice that Kasich’s fiscally responsible, tax increase-avoiding policy choices stand in sharp contrast to those seen in other states like Illinois, where job growth has been anemic — 43,000 in the past 17 months despite its larger workforce — and unemployment stubbornly high — currently 8.9 percent. That is not a coincidence.
Sorry, Tom Troy. Kasich and Republicans have a solid case. Democrats don’t have one at all.