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State Sen. Barbara Buono isn’t buying Gov. Chris Christie’s claim about a "Jersey Comeback."
Instead, a dismal record of job creation in New Jersey suggests that "the American Dream may be slipping out of grasp for many families," the Middlesex County Democrat wrote in a Jan. 25 column posted on her website.
"In New Jersey, our unemployment rate still remains above the national average and, as of November, we were ranked 45th in the nation in terms of job creation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics," Buono continued. "This is not to say Chris Christie is responsible for all of these woes, but his silence on the issue underscores his indifference (to) the plight of middle class New Jerseyans."
PolitiFact New Jersey recently ruled, in part, on a similar claim regarding unemployment rates. So we decided to focus on Buono’s claim that "as of November, we were ranked 45th in the nation in terms of job creation."
But when we compared New Jersey to the other 49 states and Washington, D.C. for job growth during recent time periods, the Garden State is performing better than what Buono claimed.
Let’s start with the employment picture in New Jersey in November 2011.
That month, there were 3,880,700 total nonfarm jobs in New Jersey, according to seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those jobs represent private- and public-sector employment.
To back up the senator’s claim, one of her representatives sent us federal labor statistics that demonstrate how the state ranked 43 out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. for the percentage of jobs created between November 2009 and November 2011.
But that still doesn’t support Buono’s claim about the 45th ranking.
Buono spokeswoman Christina Zuk told us in an email: "Bear in mind that the November data may have been adjusted, accounting for the 2% differential. We have no way of calculating what the rank was with the unadjusted data that are no longer available."
But we told Zuk that the updated figures for November 2011 were available at the time Buono made her statement.
To get a sense of how New Jersey’s growth compares during a more recent time frame, we also looked at jobs created between November 2010 and November 2011. A year-over-year comparison is a common measure of employment changes.
With a 0.7 percent increase in jobs, New Jersey ranked 32 for growth between November 2010 and November 2011.
Since the rankings differ significantly between the one-year and two-year periods, we were wondering which was a better measure of job growth. Three economic experts told us either time frame is appropriate.
"There's no question that a year over year comparison is very common, and credible time frame to evaluate employment trends," Doug Hall, director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network at the Washington, DC-based Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank, said in an email.
Hall added: "In this case, however, I think November 2009 gives us something valuable, since it's more or less the time period since the national ‘recovery’ began."
Edward Montgomery, an economist and dean of the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, agreed that both time frames are acceptable. Montgomery has held various federal government positions under President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton.
"It is not ‘wrong’ to look at job growth over intervals of 1 month, 6, months, a year, or even some other interval (e.g. 2 years)," Montgomery said in an email. "That said, it is more ‘usual’ to look at an interval that has some easy meaning or relevance like in the past year (nov 2010 to nov 2011) or over the last decade or since the President took office etc."
Since Buono framed her column as a critique of the governor’s ‘comeback’ theme, we also analyzed job growth since February 2010, Christie’s first full month in office. In terms of the percentage increase in jobs, New Jersey ranked 39 out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. for growth between February 2010 and November 2011.
So, when you study more recent time periods, New Jersey is performing better than the 45th ranking cited by Buono.
In a column, Buono claimed that "as of November, we were ranked 45th in the nation in terms of job creation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics."
Her representative sent us data showing that New Jersey ranked 43 for the percentage of jobs created between November 2009 and November 2011. But that still doesn’t support what the senator claimed.
When you analyze growth between November 2010 and November 2011, New Jersey is doing better, ranking 32 for a 0.7 percent increase in jobs.
Since the 43rd ranking for the two-year period comes close to the ranking in Buono’s column, we rate the statement Mostly False.
To comment on this ruling, go to NJ.com.
Gov. Christie's 'Jersey comeback' ignores economic security for middle-class families, a column written by state Sen. Barbara Buono, Jan. 25, 2012
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State and Metro Area Employment, Hours, & Earnings, accessed Feb. 3-8, 2012
Capitol Quickies, Job growth in the Christie era, Jan. 26, 2012
One New Jersey, Christie’s Cheap Talk On Jobs, Jan. 26, 2012
PolitiFact New Jersey, Assemblyman Lou Greenwald says Gov. Chris Christie’s veto pen is to blame for New Jersey ranking the lowest out of the 50 states in job growth, June 12, 2011
PolitiFact Ohio, John Kasich says Ohio No. 8 for job creation, No. 1 in the Midwest, Jan. 6, 2012
Interview with state Sen. Barbara Buono, Feb. 6, 2012
Email interview with Doug Hall, Economic Policy Institute, Feb. 7, 2012
Email interview with Harry Holzer, Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Feb. 7, 2012
Email interview with Edward Montgomery, Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Feb. 7, 2012
Email interview with Christina Zuk, a spokeswoman for state Sen. Barbara Buono, Feb. 6 and 8, 2012
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