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Gov. Nathan Deal’s re-election chances will largely rest on how voters view his economic stewardship of the state.
As political strategist James Carville once famously said about the biggest issue of the 1992 presidential race: "It’s the economy, stupid."
So it was no surprise that Deal held a campaign rally-type event to announce that Site Selection magazine rated Georgia as the best state to do business.
A top adviser to one of Deal’s opponent, though, said Georgians should not be too impressed.
"Georgia has lost 14 percent of its jobs paying more than $50,000 a year and added 15 percent to its Medicaid rolls during the recovery," said Michael Mule’, an adviser to the gubernatorial campaign of Dalton Mayor David Pennington.
We decided to do some fact checking to see whether Mule’ is correct.
Mule’ sent us a report to back up the first part of his claim and an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article to support the latter half of his statement.
First, let’s examine the latter part of his claim.
In September, the AJC reported that a record 1.8 million Georgians are enrolled in Medicaid and PeachCare, the state’s child health insurance program. The AJC also reported that Georgia’s Medicaid and PeachCare rolls had increased 15 percent since June 2009, or about 240,000 additional people, according to a review of state Department of Community Health data.
Since Mule’ mentioned Medicaid, and not PeachCare, we asked the DCH for specific data about Medicaid enrollment. In June 2009, there were approximately 1.36 million Medicaid recipients in the state. As of June 2013, the number of Medicaid recipients increased to nearly 1.59 million Georgians. That’s a 16.7 percent increase, according to DCH figures.
On that part of the claim, Mule’ is correct. Now back to the job-loss portion of his claim.
Georgia State University’s Fiscal Research Center released a report in December that examined the job climate in all of Georgia’s counties between 2000 and 2009. The report classified premium jobs as those that paid more than $50,000 a year.
"The state of Georgia experienced a decline in both premium (-13.59 percent) and low-paying (-2.74 percent) jobs over the last decade," the report said.
The study defined low-paying jobs as those with an annual salary of less than $35,000.
Mule’ was correct about the 14 percent decrease, but there was something that confused us. As we noted, the report studied 2000 through 2009. Federal economists say the recovery began in June 2009.
State and federal labor officials say they do not have data detailing the percentage of Georgians making $50,000 or less since 2009.
We followed up with Mule’ since his statement suggested he was referring to the number of Georgians earning more than $50,000 since the recovery.
"The Medicaid link I sent you explicitly shows that figure was ‘during the recovery.’ Perhaps inserting a comma separating the two statistics would have dismissed any confusion on your end," he said via email.
To sum up, Mule’, in an attempt to curb the credit Deal is claiming over the report, claimed "Georgia has lost 14 percent of its jobs paying more than $50,000 a year and added 15 percent to its Medicaid rolls during the recovery."
His claim is partially based on accurate numbers. He is correct about the Medicaid numbers.
But his statement also leaves the impression Mule’ was saying Georgia has lost 14 percent of its jobs paying more than $50,000 since the recovery began. PolitiFact Georgia could not find anything to back up this part of his statement.
And we think it would take more than a comma to clear that up.
Overall, his statement is partially accurate. But it takes things out of context when read as a whole. That’s our definition of Half True.
CovNews, "Deal Trying to Claim Non-Existent Accomplishment," Nov. 4, 2013.
Email from Michael Mule’, an adviser to the David Pennington’s campaign for governor, Nov. 8, 2013
Emails from Georgia Department of Community Health, Nov. 8, 2013
Georgia State University Fiscal Research Center, "The Changes In Jobs Across Georgia’s Counties," December 2012.
The Georgia Association for Primary Health Care, "Georgia’s Medicaid, PeachCare ranks still on the rise," Sept. 8, 2013.
Site Selection magazine, "Sunny day in Georgia," November 2013.
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