New Jersey’s just about gone to economic hell under Chris Christie’s leadership, a Democratic group suggests in a new TV ad.
Things are so bad here that the state ranks at the top nationwide for unemployment, at the bottom for economic growth and isn’t doing a thing to help the middle class, the ad claims.
"Under Republican Chris Christie, New Jersey had the highest increase in unemployment in the country last year," a narrator states in the ad by One New Jersey. "Nearly 1 in 10 jobless. The worst unemployment in the region. Near the bottom in economic growth, yet Christie protected a tax cut for millionaires but vetoed a minimum wage hike."
The ad, which is also running on NJ.com, the online home of The Star-Ledger, is largely accurate.
Let's review each claim.
New Jersey having the ‘worst increase in unemployment’ is based on the period from December 2011 to December 2012.
Let’s note that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics measures unemployment data by unemployment rates and the number of unemployed.
For that period, New Jersey and New Hampshire had the highest rate increase, at 0.3 percent. New Jersey’s rate ticked upward to 9.5 percent from 9.2 percent.
New Jersey wasn’t the worst, though, when looking at the number of unemployed, said Joseph J. Seneca, an economics professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. Pennsylvania had 24,761 unemployed. New Jersey had 21,932.
New Jersey’s unemployment rate increase was the 10th highest nationwide for the period from February 2012 to this past February, Seneca said.
And with New Jersey’s unemployment rate hovering above 9 percent since June 2009 – the end of the recession – it’s accurate to claim the state has nearly 1 in 10 people jobless. The state, however, has added more than 120,000 private-sector jobs, according to BLS data, Seneca and the state Republican Party.
Next, did we have the ‘worst unemployment in the region?’
One New Jersey didn’t define region specifically so we compared New Jersey with New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut. New Jersey’s unemployment rate was the highest among the five states from December 2011 to December 2012, according to BLS data.
The ad also claims New Jersey is near the bottom for economic growth. We previously checked a similar claim by Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (D-Camden).
From 2010 to 2011, New Jersey’s real gross domestic product – an inflation-adjusted measure of a state’s economy -- dropped by a half percent, placing us 47th among all states, according to data from The Bureau of Economic Analysis. So we were near the bottom, but economic experts told us for the Greenwald claim that national and regional economic conditions – not just Christie -- were factors.
Now let’s look at whether Christie protected a tax cut for millionaires and vetoed a minimum wage increase.
Democrats approved a bill in May 2010 renewing a one-year tax rate increase of 10.75 percent for those with taxable income above $1 million. The rate had expired before Christie became governor.. Christie, who campaigned that he wouldn’t raise taxes, vetoed the surcharge -- protecting the rich, some claim -- and Democrats couldn’t override it.
As for the minimum wage claim, Christie in January vetoed a Democratic proposal raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour, with future increases tied to inflation. He instead proposed phasing in a $1 increase over three years and eliminating automatic hikes.
"The sad truth is New Jersey is falling further behind, and no amount of hype can hide the reality that the middle-class and working families are hurting," One New Jersey spokesman Joshua Henne said in an e-mail. "The facts clearly show New Jersey has consistently trailed the rest of America when it comes to jobs and the economy."
NJGOP spokesman Ben Sparks pointed to the state's private-sector job growth under Christie.
"Despite the predictably misleading claims from Barbara Buono's campaign operatives, New Jersey has created over 120,000 private-sector jobs since Governor Christie took office, which stands in stark contrast to the failed two years Barbara Buono spent as Jon Corzine's budget chair, when our state lost 240,000 private-sector jobs," Sparks said in an e-mail.
Buono, (D-Middlesex), is challenging Christie in the November gubernatorial election.
One New Jersey’s new ad claims, "Under Republican Chris Christie, New Jersey had the highest increase in unemployment in the country last year. Nearly 1 in 10 jobless. The worst unemployment in the region. Near the bottom in economic growth, yet Christie protected a tax cut for millionaires but vetoed a minimum wage hike."
Each claim had varying degrees of accuracy. New Jersey and New Hampshire tied for the highest increase in unemployment last year. Nearly 1 in 10 New Jerseyans are jobless, and our state’s unemployment rate is the worst in a five-state region. The state has been near the bottom in economic growth, even though experts have said that’s not entirely Christie’s fault, and the governor vetoed a minimum wage hike. Christie technically didn’t cut the millionaire’s tax since it expired before he took office, but opinions vary wildly on that claim. We rate the ad Mostly True.
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