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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 01/17/2008

Record job growth under Huckabee?

By Michael Dobbs

On the campaign trail.

"During my tenure, we had the lowest unemployment records in the history of our state and we created a record number of jobs."
--Mike Huckabee, Republican Debate , Myrtle Beach, S.C., Jan. 10, 2008.

Governors and mayors running for president love to brag about how they slashed taxes and welfare rolls, cut back government spending, and boosted employment. By using statistics selectively, they can usually prove just about anything about their records. In the hands of a skillful political opponent, the same data can be spun in a much more negative way.

Mike Huckabee likes to claim that he created "a record number of jobs" in Arkansas during his 10 1/2 year term as governor, from July 1996 to January 2007. But a review of Department of Labor data shows that fewer jobs were created during that period than either of the previous two decades.

The Facts

According to Department of Labor data reported on an Arkansas government website, 113,900 new jobs were created in Arkansas between 1996 and 2006. That compares to 206,100 new jobs in the decade 1986 to 1996 and 141,400 new jobs in the decade 1976-1986. In other words, job creation actually slowed under Huckabee, compared to the previous two decades.

So how can he claim that he created a "record number of jobs" while he was governor of Arkansas? I put that question to his spokeswoman, Kirsten Fedewa, who replied:

2005 had the highest job growth since 1976 (the first year for which the Bureau of Labor has statistics online.) The peak was July 2004-July 2005, with 49,257 new jobs in that 12 month period. Under Governor Huckabee, Arkansas also hit its lowest ever unemployment mark (4.1 percent) and had considerably the lowest average unemployment in the past thirty years.

In other words, they are not looking at the entire 10 1/2 year period; they are looking at one, carefully selected, year. It is true that this 12-month period was a good year for job creation in Arkansas (and the rest of the country.) But as the following graph shows, employment actually declined in Arkansas under Huckabee in several of the preceding years. Should those years not also be considered if we are examining the governor's record?

The graph shows that employment figures essentially flatten out after Huckabee became governor in 1996, and only resume a significant upward trend after 2003.

Huckabee's boast about "the lowest unemployment records in the history of our state" is also very selective. It is true that the total number of unemployed in Arkansas fell to a thirty-year low of 52,900 in 2000, but it was higher in 2006 (71,800) than it was in 1996 (63,900).

The Pinocchio Test

This is not the first time Huckabee has twisted his record as governor of Arkansas to make it more palatable to GOP primary voters. He has depicted himself as a tax-cutter, when in fact he raised taxes , and he has conveniently forgotten his support for a proposal to allow illegal immigrants to benefit from in-state tuition rates. Two Pinocchios for exaggeration and selective use of statistics.

(About our rating scale.)

By Michael Dobbs  | January 17, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  2 Pinocchios, Candidate Record, Candidate Watch, Economy  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Clinton vs Obama on Iraq
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Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog organization who keeps track of political corruption, placed Mike Huckabee #6 on its list of the Top 10 most corrupt politicians in 2007. According to The Associated Press: "[Huckabee's] career has also been colored by 14 ethics complaints and a volley of questions about his integrity, ranging from his management of campaign cash to his use of a nonprofit organization to subsidize his income to his destruction of state computer files on his way out of the governor's office."

Posted by: VoiceOfReason | January 17, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Good column. I think the Club for Growth conservative types like me will eventually figure out that stopping Huckabee is the only priority in the GOP nomination. The other four guys are good enough.

Posted by: The Angry One | January 17, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

How many "Pinocchios" if Huckabee was sworn in as Governor of Arkansas on July 15, not June, of 1996?

Posted by: JakeD | January 17, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks that Mitt or Huck have even A CHANCE in the general election is terribly deluded. The Dems will TEAR HIM APART. New national poll numbers on potential general election matchups:

Obama (D) 43%, McCain (R) 42%
McCain (R) 48%, Clinton (D) 45%
Obama (D) 54%, Huckabee (R) 31%
Clinton (D) 49%, Huckabee (R) 40%
Obama (D) 57%, Romney (R) 27%
Clinton (D) 50%, Romney (R) 39%
McCain (R) 48%, Edwards (D) 40%
Edwards (D) 48%, Huckabee (R) 33%
Edwards (D) 50%, Romney (R) 34%

In a general election matchup, John McCain destroys Edwards, beats Hillary and is extremely competitive and within the margin of error with Obama. No other GOP candidate comes within even 9 points of beating a democrat. Huckabee loses all 3 elections by an average of 16 points, and Romney loses by a whopping 19 points on average.

A vote for Mitt Romney is a vote for HilEdBama. That's why the liberal establishment in Michigan was pushing Democrats to vote for Romney. But, hey. I'm sure these facts are just "liberal media propaganda". Feel free to reject reality and substitute your own. While you're at it, pass me some of what you're smoking.

When you finally wake up and stop deluding yourself, vote for John McCain.


Posted by: PBL4 | January 17, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

In reply to JakeD, I have corrected it. Thanks. I will let you award the Pinocchios on this occasion.

Posted by: The Fact Checker | January 17, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

It is very clear that Huckabee has read his cousin's, Bill Clinton, book on twist, spin and circumvent. Mike Huckabee is a liar and a fraud. Get the facts

No logins, no signups, no registrations, no blogs, no commentaries, no emails; jus tthe facts.

Posted by: Mark | January 17, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

uh...he did cut taxes. and he raised some taxes. there is nothing untruthful about saying he cut taxes because he did. what is malfunctioning in your head regarding this straighforward statement. the fact that he raised some taxes does not mean he did not cut taxes. if you are a thorough reporter or debate host then you speak with high diction and request his answer to NET tax increases or decreases. othewise...wise up!

Posted by: Anti-wimp | January 17, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Here's what a group of billionaires/multi-millionaires who know a little something about business have to say to pee-ons who don't...and to the club for growth...this released yesterday:
Today, the following businessmen from Arkansas released a statement in support of former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee: Scott T. Ford, President and CEO, Alltel Corporation; Warren A. Stephens, President and CEO, Stephens Inc.; Madison Murphy, Former Chairman, Murphy Oil Corporation; John Tyson, Chairman of the Board, Tyson Foods, Inc; and French Hill, Chairman and CEO, Delta Trust and Banking Corporation:

We are a traditionally bi-partisan group of executives of several of the largest corporations headquartered in the state of Arkansas, each with considerable exposure to the administration of Governor Mike Huckabee. Of late, Governor Huckabee has attracted what we believe to be unwarranted criticism regarding his business record.

Our experience with Governor Huckabee indicates that he not only values greatly the freedoms of religion and liberty, but of the free market as well. He is an atypical leader who garnered the respect of not only the professional business community but of the working men and women across our state as well.

When he became our governor, he inherited our long sub-standard education system, infrastructure, and regulatory climate. Under his leadership, we were able to grow our businesses, increase our employment, reduce our litigation exposure and enjoy, along with all of our fellow Arkansans, a healthier economy, improved schools, updated highways, and new healthcare delivery facilities.

In our support of Governor Huckabee's truly conservative, small government business outlook and his pragmatic, yet compassionate style of governing, we invite you to look past the shallow rhetoric of yet another campaign season to see what we have experienced first hand - that with the right political leadership in place, businesses and citizens can jointly prosper and as they do, they contribute so much more to the economic and societal fabric of a community than simply tax revenues.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 17, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

The Fact Checker:

Wow! I get to award "Pinocchios" just for pointing out that Huckabee was sworn in as Governor of Arkansas on July 15, 1996?! This is better than being a losing contestant on "Jeopardy!" Don't worry, though, since I assume it was not an intentional effort to mislead on your part (just as I assume Huckabee is not trying to mislead anyone re: his record job growth), I wouldn't give any "Pinocchios" whatsoever -- judge not, lest ye be judged.

Posted by: JakeD | January 17, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Jake D: "judge not, lest ye be judged." What a joke, don't you dare end you comment with judge not, lest ye be judged" when in fact that is precisely how you operate on a daily basis. No one will ever measure up.

Posted by: brandywine | January 17, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Take note next debate,see and hear which candidate knows The United States is BROKE.When you crunch the numbers folks there is no money.Our Children are in Trouble.

Posted by: B.Kuhl | January 18, 2008 4:38 AM | Report abuse


"Judge not lest ye be judged"

(There, I said it again!!!)

Posted by: JakeD | January 18, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse


"Judge not lest ye be judged"

(There, I said it again!!!)

Posted by: JakeD | January 18, 2008 03:56 PM

And your point is????????

Posted by: Anonymous | January 19, 2008 11:01 PM | Report abuse

My POINT is that brandywine posted on January 17, 2008 07:37 PM "What a joke, don't you dare end you[r] comment with 'judge not, lest ye be judged' when in fact that is precisely how you operate on a daily basis. No one will ever measure up."

First of all, I didn't post yesterday, so it is not, in fact, "on a daily basis" regardless. Second, I did contribute to Obama's campaign and am indeed voting for him in the California primary -- he has therefore "measured up". Third, I was really only talking to The Fact Checker in that post (re: I wouldn't give any "Pinocchios"). Any more questions?

Posted by: JakeD | January 21, 2008 7:19 PM | Report abuse

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