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Missing Md. jobs report resurfaces on GOP Web site

Aaron C. Davis

A mixed Maryland jobs report that a state agency posted briefly online last month and that ran counter to a more positive job-growth assessment at the time offered by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), appeared to resurface Thursday on the Web site of the Maryland Republican Party.

State GOP spokesman Ryan Mahoney said the party, which had filed a public records request for the document, obtained it by other means while it was waiting for the state's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to respond to its request.

As indicated by those who saw the memo when it was posted for several hours on Aug. 20, it began by summarizing that "Maryland's economic recovery faltered in July" amid declining consumer confidence, spending and lackluster hiring at the national level.

"Job growth, although slowing, has proceeded without interruption over the past five months. ... Maryland's economy has clearly made substantial progress, adding just over 53,000 jobs to industry payrolls ... Growth, however, has been uneven and we can expect, in the months ahead, to face an uphill struggle in trying to regain the jobs lost during the downturn ..."

Maryland GOP Chairman Audrey Scott released a statement Thursday, charging that the recovered document showed O'Malley's administration knew the economy was slowing and tried to deliberately hide that from voters.

"This newly obtained document shows Martin O'Malley has no regard for the 216,000 unemployed Marylanders. It's now clear the government knew Maryland's economy had faltered in July yet despite being caught red-handed; they deliberately withheld the information to benefit O'Malley's reelection bid," Scott said.

An administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity last month to explain the issue said the posting and removal was an "innocent mistake." The official said the report was an internal document prepared by a 30-year state analyst that was never supposed to be posted online. The official said that once state officials recognized the error, they removed it. The document was posted for about five hours.

The two-page report also said the loss of 3,400 temporary Census positions in July was a "major drag on Maryland's business activity ... overshadowing the upturns reported in select private sector industries."

On Tuesday, new federal data showed the report was on the right track. Maryland lost about 5,700 jobs in August, and its unemployment rate inched back up from 7.1 percent to 7.3 percent.

O'Malley addressed the negative jobs report Wednesday saying "We want to see a net positive every month; that won't always happen ... but I don't believe there is any state better positioned" for a robust economic recovery.

By Aaron C. Davis  | September 23, 2010; 6:40 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections  
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Posted by: tonycurtis24 | September 24, 2010 3:10 AM | Report abuse

Based on what I can gather, this whole 'scandal' is ridiculous and manufactured.

It would seem that Maryland’s DLLR has an obligation to provide Marylanders with factual information about the economy and jobs as it becomes available to them.

They should not, however, serve as pundits or prognosticators, making unqualified and dire predictions about future economic growth that cannot possibly be known to them (or they would’ve have seen this mixed report coming, wouldn't they have?)

Doesn't seem like they altered the data in any way, and the facts of the job numbers remain constant (which would constitute a true manipulation of a jobs report.) The negative opinion of one drafter seems to have been excised once an unapproved report was discovered to have been released.

Economic recoveries are partially (some would say mainly) built on consumer confidence, and this state agency had no business offering their opinion about future/unknown jobs numbers and should have stuck to delivering the most factually-accurate and opinion-free report available, which they did once they removed the unapproved release from their site and released the revised and approved report.

Posted by: jrieth50 | September 24, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

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