September 5, 2011 unemployment and the three governors: Huntsman wins
There’s been a lot of talk about the “Texas job creation” miracle because Texas’s unemployment rate is one point below the national average (8.4% vs. 9.1%).(1)
But when Gov. Perry took office in Jan. 2001, unemployment in Texas was also slightly below that of the nation as a whole (3.8% as opposed to 4.2%).(1)
But how does this compare with Utah (under Gov. Huntsman) and Mass. (under Gov. Romney)?
In Aug. 2009 (when Huntsman left Utah) unemployment was 6% (a full 3.7% below the national average). (3) Relative to the nation as a whole, Utah improved as well. In Jan. 2005 it was 4.9% (only 0.3 pts below the national average)(4)
What about Massachusetts? In 2007 when Romney left office unemployment was 5.3%, very slightly higher than the 4.6% national average.(5) When he came into office, unemployment was 5.2%, also about the same as the 5.7% national average. To sum up:
When he came in When he left
Perry 0.4% better 0.7% better (as of July)
Romney 0.5% better 0.7% worse
Huntsman 0.3% better 3.7% better
It seems to me that when it comes to jobs, the only candidate who has anything to brag about is Huntsman.
Under Perry, there was a very slight improvement relative to the nation as a whole. But Perry did have the benefit of rising oil prices. Being governor of Texas and bragging about job creation when oil is expensive is like being born on third base and bragging you hit a triple.
Romney’s record doesn’t look as strong- to be fair, though, he had an overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature to contend with. So it seems to me he deserves a little less blame for the bad (if perhaps a little less credit for the good) than do other governors. (In the interest of full disclosure, I note that I will almost certainly vote for Romney).