The state and national economies might not exactly be robust since the recession ended four years ago, but Chris Christie claims New Jersey has been seeing steady and sustained job growth in that time.
Christie touted that growth during his four appearances Nov. 10 on the major Sunday morning news programs including Face The Nation, ABC News This Week, Fox News Sunday and Meet The Press.
In fact, The Colbert Report, a faux news program on Comedy Central, poked fun at the governor’s appearances during a tightly edited clips sequence shown Nov. 11. The sequence starts by Christie downplaying on each show claims of a presidential run in 2016 and instead focusing on his being New Jersey’s governor.
To illustrate that point, the clips then lead into Christie saying the state has gained "143,000 new private-sector jobs."
Christie’s number is generally accurate, but the methodology used to measure the jobs gains isn’t exactly ideal, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
First, the numbers.
Christie’s timeframe for measuring jobs was February 2010 -- his first full month in office -- to August 2013, the most recent month for which preliminary employment data is available.
New Jersey had 3,192,000 private-sector jobs in February 2010, BLS data shows. By August 2013 that figure was 3,334,400. The difference? 142,400 jobs.
So Christie rounded up a bit when he cited a gain of 143,000 jobs, but his number is generally solid.
Those numbers also match employment data on the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development website.
Next, the methodology.
The timeframe cited by Christie isn’t even. Experts have told PolitiFact New Jersey on numerous occasions that the best way to evaluate employment trends is to measure seasonally adjusted, year-over-year data.
Seasonally adjusted data is best for review because it takes into account jobs that result from seasonal hiring patterns.
So when looking at annual data, we often review December over December to get the most accurate picture of employment for that 12-month period.
But in Christie’s case, we’re evaluating February 2010 over preliminary data for August 2013.
Joseph Seneca, an economics professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, agreed that it’s best to review seasonally adjusted data within the context of a year. He reviewed the BLS numbers from August 2012 to August 2013 and then looked at how New Jersey’s job growth compares with neighboring states.
Seneca’s analysis found that nearly half the state’s private-sector job growth came during the year that he reviewed: 60,300 private-sector jobs. In addition, New Jersey’s job growth rate of 1.8 percent exceeded that of New York and Connecticut, both with 1.3 percent growth, and Pennsylvania, which had a growth rate of 0.9 percent.
"The latest year-over-year data indicate that New Jersey is right in the middle of the pack in terms of the rate of private-sector job growth," Seneca said in an e-mail, adding that much of the growth has been in education, health services, leisure and hospitality, trade, transportation and utilities.
A recent segment on The Colbert Report shows Christie emphasizing his work as governor by saying New Jersey has gained "143,000 new private-sector jobs."
BLS data and an analysis by a Rutgers economics professor back up Christie’s figure, which is rounded up a bit from the actual figure of 142,400 new private-sector jobs created.
The governor’s overall point is that private-sector employment in New Jersey is increasing, and he’s right.
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