What Massachusetts’ Slow Economic Growth Tells Us About Mitt Romney’s Economic Plan

Mitt Romney has touted his experience as a business leader as proof of his economic know-how, but his economic record as governor of Massachusetts doesn’t seem to back up his argument.

While Romney was in office from 2003 to 2007, Massachusetts lagged behind the rest of the nation in job growth and its economy grew roughly half as fast as the national average. It finished the four-year period 47th in job creation, and its economy never reached 2 percent annual growth, according to the National Bureau of Economic Analysis.

As this chart from the Center for American Progress’ Christian Weller and Sam Ungar shows, Massachusetts would have had to grow far faster to keep pace with the national average and even more quickly to keep up with the 4 percent annualized growth Romney now promises will occur under his economic plan:

Had Romney grown Massachusetts’ economy at the national average, the state’s economic output would have increased by 5 percent. Had he grown it as fast as he promises to grow the American economy, output would have been more than 10 percent higher, Weller and Ungar found.

Economist Robert Lynch, writing in the Baltimore Sun, found that if the American economy performed at the same growth rate as the Massachusetts economy under Romney, he would create just one-sixth of the 12 million jobs he has promised — a full 10 million short of his goal. Lynch also found that President Obama’s private sector job creation record is better than Romney’s was as governor: under Obama, the number of private sector jobs has grown 1.6 percent. It grew just 1.3 percent in Massachusetts during Romney’s term.

While the unemployment rate fell during Romney’s four years it office, it did so largely because of the shrinking of the state’s labor force. Only three states lost more people during Romney’s four years in office than Massachusetts, according to Lynch.

Romney often claims that he rebuilt the Massachusetts economy by making the state more business-friendly, and he promises to do the same as president by cutting tax rates for the wealthy and corporations. Weller and Ungar conclude, however, that the performance of the Massachusetts economy under Romney’s leadership “leaves little to brag about.”