In a June 6 editorial, The Wall Street Journal misleadingly claimed there was "a decline of more than 550,000 jobs during the Obama era," echoing a claim being made by the Romney campaign. To arrive at this statistic, the Journal number uses the dubious starting point of January 2009, which assumes that President Obama is responsible for job losses that occurred before any Obama policies went into effect. Using a more accurate starting point reveals that close to a million jobs have been created during the Obama administration.
In addition, using January 2009 as a starting point is completely at odds with how the Romney campaign has said its own jobs creation record should be judged.
Obama signed the Recovery Act (commonly known as the stimulus) into law on February 17, 2009. And as numbers provided by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis show, between March 2009, the first month stimulus money could affect the jobs numbers, and May 2012, 971,000 non-farm payroll jobs were created, a far different picture from the one the Journal paints.
Moreover, in its May 2012 report the Congressional Budget Office estimated that between 200,000 and 1.5 million jobs were created as a direct result of the stimulus through the first quarter of 2012.
Furthermore, this measurement is completely at odds with how the Romney campaign asks for Romney's record as Massachusetts governor to be judged. The Romney campaign asks that people throw out Romney's jobs record over its entire first year.
As Talking Points Memo has pointed out, Romney surrogate Ed Gillespie asserted that people who point out that under Romney Massachusetts ranked 47th out of the 50 states in terms of job creation are "diluting [Romney's record] with the first year in office." From the post:
Behind the Romney campaign's numbers is an argument that actually mirrors what the Obama campaign has been saying about the president's job-creation record. The Romney team is arguing that Obama is not taking into account the fact that Romney inherited a tough situation.
"This is what they're doing, Chris," Gillespie said. "You take the first year, which is a low base year when the governor came in and took office, because it was 50th in job creation out of all of the states, dead last ... and they're averaging out over the four years. So, they are bringing down the gains of his fourth year in office, which shows the real impact of his policies and diluting it with the first year in office."
The Washington Post's Greg Sargent made a similar observation in a May 30 post, stating:
The Romney campaign is out with a new press release blasting Obama for presiding over a "net" loss in jobs. As I've been saying far too often, this metric is bogus, because it factors in the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of jobs the economy was hemorrhaging when Obama took office, before his policies took effect.
But this time, there's an intriguing new twist in the Romney campaign's argument.
In the same release attacking Obama over "net" job loss, the Romney camp also defends Romney's jobs record as Governor of Massachusetts by pointing out ... that Romney inherited a state economy that was losing jobs when he took office.
Here's the key bullet point, from the Romney release:
Governor Romney Inherited An Economy That Was Losing Jobs Each Month And Left Office With An Economy That Was Adding Jobs Each Month. After taking office at a time when the state was losing thousands of jobs every month, Governor Romney's focus on fiscal responsibility helped create an environment where job growth returned to Massachusetts. Job growth increased throughout his term and the state added over 40,000 payroll jobs during his final year in office --the best year of job growth in Massachusetts over the past decade. Household employment grew by nearly 50,000 under Governor Romney and the unemployment rate declined to well under 5%.
As you can see, the Romney campaign is defending itself against the latest Dem attack line -- that Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50th in job creation -- by pointing out that Romney should be judged by the job growth that happened after jobs losses were reversed, and even by the number of jobs that were added towards the end of his term.
This is precisely the argument that the Romney campaign is implicitly dismissing as bogus when Obama makes it.