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In his quest for a new job in the corner office, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne is trying to keep a close eye on New Hampshire’s employment picture.
"There are 60,000 fewer jobs today in this state than we had in 2008," Lamontagne, a Manchester Republican and veteran attorney, told audience members during a July 12 debate at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H.
"It’s going to take us until 2014, at this current rate, to re-employ who we had before," he said.
Looking at the statement, we’ll leave the 2014 projection alone. As for the 60,000 jobs lost, that sounds like a job for PolitiFact. Because of his wording, we are strictly going to examine whether the number is accurate without assessing whether state officials deserve blame or credit.
To start, we reached out to the Lamontagne campaign, which directed us to the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies, a non-partisan research group that released a report earlier this spring looking at the Granite State economy.
The study, titled "Skills and People Matching: Where are the Jobs?" reports that New Hampshire is "missing" about 60,000 jobs. That means the current number of jobs in the state -- 626,500, according to New Hampshire employment figures -- is about 60,000 less than the jobs the state would have hosted if the recession had never settled in, according to Dennis Delay, an economist with the public policy center who presented the report earlier this month.
By the time the recession hit, New Hampshire had seen five consecutive years of job growth, rising from 614,900 in May 2003 to a high of 659,000 in May 2008, according to state employment figures. And, if not for the recession, the state would likely have continued to see job growth over the years to follow, reaching nearly 690,000 by now, Delay said.
"All other things being equal, the economy could have gone on creating jobs," he said. "We had had a 10-year expansion prior to that point."
But, then the recession intervened.
Starting in spring 2008, several months after the official start of the recession, New Hampshire began to shed jobs, falling from 651,000 in May of that year to 626,500 in May 2012, the most recent figures available.
Those numbers show a difference of 24,500 between May 2008 and May 2012 -- less than half of the 60,000 Lamontagne claimed.
To take it a step further, the highest job total in 2008 came in February of that year with 651,600 jobs, according to the state count. That difference is 25,100 -- still less than half of Lamontagne’s figure.
Those numbers, released by the New Hampshire Employment Security office, reflect the total number of full- and part-time jobs in the state, including those held by part-time workers and out-of-state residents, according to Annette Nielsen, an economist with the employment security office’s Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau.
The recent numbers, seasonally adjusted, are based entirely on surveys of employers, while the older figures have been cross-checked with data collected from tax returns, Nielsen said.
Neither tally includes self-employed jobs which do not contribute unemployment taxes. The employment office does not track those figures, but they shouldn’t weigh heavily on the total jobs numbers, Nielsen said.
"These numbers aren’t complete, but (the 60,000) number seems a little high to me," Nielsen said. "We were closer to 30,000, and we’ve added some since then. ... That’s still a huge drop for New Hampshire."
To Lamontagne’s point, New Hampshire, like the rest of the country, has lost many jobs since the recession started. But the candidate got his numbers wrong. The report he cites compares the current jobs count to the number the state could have reached if the recession had never hit, which isn’t the same thing. Lamontagne’s number of 60,000 jobs lost was twice as high as the actual number of jobs lost. We rate Lamontagne’s claim Half True.
Franklin Pierce University, Republican gubernatorial debate, July 12, 2012
E-mail interview with Tom Cronin, spokesman for Ovide Lamontagne for Governor, July 13, 2012
Interview with Annette Nielsen, economist for N.H. Employment Security, July 13, 2012
Interview with Dennis Delay, economist for New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies, July 13, 2012
New Hampshire Employment Security, New Hampshire Current Employment Statistics, Total nonfarm employment, July 13, 2012
New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies, Skills and People Matching: Where are the Jobs?, May 31, 2012
New England Economic Partnership, New Hampshire Economic Outlook, May 31, 2012
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