Now here comes Rick Perry challenging Mitt Romney’s record on job creation. The stats are definitely in his favor. Between June of ’09 and June of ’11, 50% of the net new jobs created in the United States were in Texas, making Texas number one in job growth by a loooooooooong shot.
Under Romney, Massachusetts’ record was terrible by comparison. The Bay State ranked 47th in job growth with employment rising less than one percent from ’03 to ’07 – his years in office (during which US job growth was 5 percent).
Governor Perry clearly did better than Governor Romney at creating jobs. But it is not two governors who will square off over the issue, it is two men with two lifetimes of experience to look at.
Ever since President Clinton drummed the concept of net job creation into our heads with his mounting claims of the millions of jobs “I created,” we have become accustomed to monitoring this figure as evidence of executive economic skill. But, in this case, Romney can point to a lifetime of actually creating jobs while Governor Perry can only cite his role in presiding over their creation as head of state.
It’s quite a difference. Perry’s Texas has had historically low taxes for decades and is one of only a handful of states without an income tax. In 1970, for example, Texas had 11 million people and Michigan had 10 million. Now Texas has 25 million while Michigan cannot find jobs for its current population of 11 million. The credit for Texas’ low taxes belongs not just to Perry, but to Governors George W. Bush and Bill Clements before him. (And even a nod is due Governor Ann Richards in between).
The job creation record is partially due to a surge in oil demand (one quarter of the new Texas jobs are in the energy sector) and some of the new jobs are due to the efforts of former Governor (and client) Mark White in getting the chip research industry to locate in Austin in the 80s.
Romney has actually, personally, financially created tens of thousands of jobs. His record of buying companies, fixing them up, selling off the unprofitable parts, obtaining financing to grow the money-making parts is invaluable in helping us to get out of the current job creation funk.
Any good Republican president will hold down taxes and block new regulations. But it may take a businessman with Romney’s skill set to dig down into the bureaucracy and understand precisely how bank regulation or EPA controls stop job creation. Romney needs to make the case that we need more than broad brush policy strokes to get the job machine running again. It is not enough to have been a good driver of the economic engine. You need to be a mechanic who knows how it works.