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In Gov. Chris Christie’s eyes, New Jersey is on a path to prosperity.
But a political advocacy group says the governor’s view is muddled.
One New Jersey, a 501(c)(4) organization that opposes the governor, criticized him in a recent news release for a lackluster record on spurring employment growth.
"Time and time again, Governor Christie uses big talk to overcompensate for limp action. In his State of the State last week, Christie repeated the catchphrase ‘Jersey Comeback.’ Rather than sprinkling the sound bite throughout his remarks and on the national television circuit, Governor Christie instead should come back to New Jersey and do his job. Because far too many residents are without a job – as the state is down nearly 200,000 jobs from its pre-recession peak," a Jan. 26 post on the group’s website states. "And for 12 consecutive months, New Jersey has trailed the rest of America when it comes to unemployment.
"Governor Christie is more focused on creating additional wealth for his friends and backers in the One Percent than he is creating jobs for New Jersey residents."
Federal data mostly supports One New Jersey’s numbers. But the statistics need clarification: more recent figures show job growth and the state’s unemployment rate -- at the time One New Jersey put out its news release -- was not statistically different than the national rate.
The last recession started in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. New Jersey hit a prerecession peak of more than 4.08 million jobs in October 2007. The state had about 3.88 million jobs in December, the most recent data available.
That’s a loss of more than 205,000 jobs.
Most of that job loss occurred while Jon Corzine was governor. Since Christie took office the state has gained jobs, adding more than 38,000 jobs since February 2010, Christie’s first full month in office.
With that job growth, is One New Jersey right to claim that "for 12 consecutive months, New Jersey has trailed the rest of America when it comes to unemployment?"
That’s a reference to the difference between state and national unemployment rates, according to One New Jersey spokesman Joshua Henne.
"Since February 2011, for every past month for which numbers are available for both NJ and US, New Jersey has been behind the national rate every month," Henne wrote in an email.
New Jersey’s unemployment rate decreased slightly from 9.1 percent in December 2010 to 9 percent last December.
During the same time frame the national unemployment rate dropped from 9.4 percent to 8.5 percent.
In January 2011, both rates were at 9.1 percent. So the group’s claim is right for 11 consecutive months, not 12.
Still, those differences are not statistically significant, said Ken LeVasseur, a senior economist with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. LeVasseur said New Jersey’s rate may be slightly higher than the nation’s, but "it’s effectively not different."
To unemployed New Jerseyans, "the difference in unemployment rates is a heckuva lot more than a question of ‘statistical significance,’" Henne said. "Also, a fact is a fact. Plain and simple, New Jersey lags the nation when it comes to unemployment."
On Feb. 3, after One New Jersey made the statement on New Jersey’s jobs situation, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the national unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent in January. Updated figures for New Jersey won’t be released until March.
It’s also worth noting, as we’ve found previously, that it’s just as unreasonable to blame a state’s governor for job loss as it would be to give him or her credit for job growth. There are too many other factors at work.
One New Jersey said the state is "down nearly 200,000 jobs from its pre-recession peak" and "for 12 consecutive months, New Jersey has trailed the rest of America when it comes to unemployment."
It’s true the state shed more than 200,000 jobs since its prerecession peak in 2007, but the governor didn’t take office until 2010 and since then that trend has reversed.
New Jersey's unemployment rate has trailed the national rate for 11 consecutive months, not 12, the difference was never statistically significant and it’s wrong to pin blame for the state’s unemployment problem squarely on Christie.
The numbers are mostly right, but they need clarification. So, we rate the statement Half True.
To comment on this ruling, go to NJ.com.
One New Jersey, Christie’s Cheap Talk on Jobs, Jan. 26, 2012
Email interview with Joshua Henne, spokesman for One New Jersey, Jan. 31, 2012
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary, Jan. 24, 2012
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment, Hours, and Earnings - State and Metro Area,accessed Jan. 31, 2012
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS), accessed Jan. 31, 2012
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics including the National Unemployment Rate, accessed Jan. 31, 2012
National Bureau of Economic Research, "U.S. Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions," accessed Jan. 31, 2012
Interview with Ken LeVasseur, senior economist with U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jan. 31, 2012
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Situation Summary, Feb. 3, 2012
New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, 2012 Release Dates For New Jersey, accessed Feb. 6, 2012
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