Record job growth under Huckabee?
"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.
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.
| January 17, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: 2 Pinocchios, Candidate Record, Candidate Watch, Economy
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