Monday, November 24th, 2014

A look at McDonnell's convention speech:

Gov. Bob McDonnell promised to reduce still births and incidents and low birth weights for Medicaid babies.
Gov. Bob McDonnell promised to reduce still births and incidents and low birth weights for Medicaid babies.

Gov. Bob McDonnell delivered an eight-minute speech to the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night. Many of his claims were familiar to PolitiFact Virginia. Here’s our-fact-checking review:

Claim: National unemployment has been "over 8 percent for 42 straight months."

McDonnell is correct in making this often-repeated claim. National unemployment has been above 8 percent since February 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It peaked at 10 percent in October 2009 and fell to 8.1 percent in April 2012.

In July 2012, the latest month available, unemployment stood at 8.3 percent.

Claim: "New business start-ups (are) at the lowest level in 30 years."

PolitiFact Ohio rated this claim True when U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said it in March. Data from the Census Bureau and U.S. Small Business Administration shows that the per capita rate of new employer business formation in 2009 was 1.32 per thousand people, the most recent year for which statistics were available.

So Americans started new businesses with employees at a rate that was just about half -- 51.4 percent -- of the rate in 1977. And the numbers also fell off -- Americans started 563,325 businesses with employees in 1977. In 2009, despite an increase in the population, they started 403,765. Neither the rate nor the number of startups since 1977 had dipped so low, according to Scott Shane, professor of entrepreneurial studies at Case Western Reserve University.

Claim: "Republican governors lead seven of the 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates."

McDonnell is right on the numbers, but on shaky ground when he insists Republican stewardship has brought those results. The fact that seven of the 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates are led by Republicans is hardly evidence that GOP governors trump Democrats in creating jobs. Three of those seven states, including Virginia, were also in the Top 10 when they were were headed by Democrats a year or two ago.

PolitiFact has often said that governors only have a marginal effect on state economies.

Claim: "In Virginia over the last two years, with Republicans and Democrats working together, our unemployment rate is down 20 percent, to 5.9 percent."

It’s not exactly clear what McDonnell means when he says "over the last two years." But by any calculation, his statement does not hold up.

When McDonnell became governor in January 2010, Virginia’s unemployment rate hit a high water mark of 7.3 percent. It was 5.9 percent in this July. That means the rate, using McDonnell’s confusing formula, actually fell by 19.2 percent.

What if, by two years, McDonnell meant the span from July 2010 to July 2012? In that case, we start with a 6.8 percent state unemployment rate and end at 5.9 percent. That means the rate, under the governor’s formula, would have fallen by 13.2 percent.

Claim: "We’ve added 151,000 net new jobs in Virginia."

The numbers add up. According to seasonally-adjusted BLS figures, there were 3.593 million employed Virginians in February 2010, McDonnell’s first full month in office. The number increased last month to 3.744 million.