Mitt Romney has built his presidential campaign on his expertise as a job creator, telling crowds at campaign rallies that only he has the experience to create the jobs our economy needs. His critique of President Obama’s performance, meanwhile, pulls no punches, as Romney often claims (falsely) that Obama “made the economy worse.”
Romney prefers to focus on his past as a corporate executive at Bain Capital, where he often invested in companies and laid off workers while reaping huge profits. But a closer look at Romney’s governorship of Massachusetts, from 2003 to 2007, reveals that his “experience” as a job-creator isn’t all that great. In fact, Massachusetts lagged behind the nation in virtually every economic measure, Andrew Sum, an economics professor at Northeastern University, told the Washington Post:
“There was not one measure where the state did well under his term in office. We were below average and often near the bottom,” said Sum, who is also the director of Northeastern’s Center for Labor Market Studies.
Romney’s campaign points out that he took over the state during a downturn, which is true. But Massachusetts was 47th in the nation in job creation during Romney’s time as governor, and by the beginning of the Great Recession, it still had not replaced 100,000 jobs lost to the 2001 recession, making it one of only four states not to have replaced all its lost jobs over that time period. The state’s jobs record during that time more closely resembled those of Rust Belt manufacturing states like Michigan and Ohio than the high-tech economies of New York and North Carolina, two states to which it had once compared itself.
While the unemployment rate under Romney did fall, it was largely due to contraction of the labor force — a criticism Romney has often leveled at Obama. According to Sum, the only state that saw a sharper drop in its labor force during Romney’s tenure was Louisiana, the state that was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Without Romney in command, the state’s economy has rebounded much faster from the next recession it faced, creating jobs at nearly twice the national rate and ranking in the top 10 nationally. Romney is banking his presidential campaign on his experience creating jobs and leading an economy out of a downturn. If these numbers are any indication, that’s an experience the American people may not want.