Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
Mostly True
Jindal
"Our economy (in Louisiana) has grown 50 percent faster than the national GDP, even since the national recession."

Bobby Jindal on Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 in an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe"

Bobby Jindal says Louisiana's growth has outpaced the nation's since the recession

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal touted his state's economic growth on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." Were his facts right?

Louisiana’s Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, attracted some media attention recently while attending an annual meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington.

At a press event after meeting President Barack Obama with a bipartisan group of governors, Jindal said, "The Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy. I think we can do better than that." That prompted Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, to come to the microphone and call it a breach of the traditional bipartisan decorum for such events.

Jindal, a potential Republican presidential candidate, hit the airwaves again two days later when he was interviewed on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Panelist Mike Barnicle asked Jindal to defend his own economic record: "The last time the Census Bureau checked the per capita income of Louisiana, you were 47th lowest in the United States, not all under your watch. What have you done, as governor, to bring in all these better paying jobs and boost your people's per capita income?"

Jindal responded, "Well, the great thing is, we're doing exactly what the president has not. Cut taxes, reform debt, make some investment in workforce training, make it easier for businesses to create jobs. And here's the record. In Louisiana, we now have more people working, highest incomes in our state's history. Larger population than ever before. And the president can't say all those things about the country. Our economy has grown 50 percent faster than the national GDP, even since the national recession."

We wondered whether it’s correct that Louisiana has "grown 50 percent faster than the national GDP, even since the national recession."

When we asked Jindal’s office for more detail, they said he had been comparing the growth in inflation-adjusted gross domestic product for his state and the nation since 2007 -- a year he chose because it was the "baseline" year before he began his first term as governor.

We looked at the numbers and found that Jindal actually understated the comparison. Between 2007 and 2012 (the last year for which data is available), inflation-adjusted GDP grew by 2.5 percent nationally, but by 6.4 percent in Louisiana.

This definitely supports Jindal’s claim. However, we’ll note a caveat: While the timespan Jindal used certainly makes sense given his tenure as governor, it’s not the only way to define "since the national recession" -- the words he used in the MSNBC interview.

The recession officially began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. So if you want to look at the period "since the recession," one could just as easily use the range 2008-12, 2009-12 or 2010-12. So let’s look at how these date ranges stack up.

For 2008-12, Jindal would also be correct. During that period, Louisiana growth (7.9 percent) easily outpaced United States growth (3.2 percent).

But he’d be wrong for 2009-12, when United States growth (6.7 percent) exceeded Louisiana growth (4.6 percent).

And he’d also be wrong for 2010-12, when the United States economy grew (4.1 percent) and the Louisiana economy actually shrank (by 1.2 percent).

United States growth also exceeded Louisiana growth between 2011 and 2012 -- 2.5 percent to 1.5 percent.

Perhaps an easier way to look at it is to compare the year-over-year growth in GDP for Louisiana and the United States. The more robust statistic for each year is listed in bold.

 

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

United States

-0.7

-3.3

+2.4

+1.6

+2.5

Louisiana

-1.4

+3.2

+5.8

-2.6

+1.5

 

If you look at it this way, the United States economy has grown faster (or shrunk less) in three of these years, compared to two years when the Louisiana economy did better, which undercuts Jindal’s claim.

This doesn’t surprise John Francis, an economist at Louisiana Tech.

"Louisiana's economy is highly dependent on the energy sector which, no matter where in the business cycle we lie, is always in demand," he said. "So, when the economy is in a recession, we tend to do better than average. When the economy is doing better, energy demand is somewhat higher, but not dramatically so. So when the economy is doing well, we lag behind the U.S. average. I suspect that we were doing better when the economy was in the heart of the Great Recession, but we have fallen behind as the overall economy has rebounded."

However, Jindal’s camp draws the following analogy: In a football game between the "United States team" and the "Louisiana team," the winner would be the one who ended up with more points, not the one who won more quarters.

"By any objective analysis, Louisiana has outperformed the national economy since January 2008," said Michael Reed, a spokesman for Jindal.

Our ruling

Jindal said, "Our economy (in Louisiana) has grown 50 percent faster than the national GDP, even since the national recession."

The time frame Jindal’s office said he used -- from 2007 to 2012 -- is a reasonable one, and using that period does make his claim accurate. However, it’s worth remembering that taking one crack at the numbers can tell an incomplete story.

The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information, so we rate it Mostly True.