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Donald Trump charged Hillary Clinton with "doing nothing" for 26 years at a campaign stop in Florida, highlighting a jobs pledge she made during her 2000 Senate campaign.
"She promised, running for the Senate years ago, 200,000 jobs for upstate New York. It was a disaster," Trump said Sept. 27 in Melbourne, Fla. "Not only didn’t they come, but they lost so many jobs and you have it see it now. It’s so sad when you see what’s happened to upstate New York. It is a disaster."
During her 2000 Senate race against Republican Rick Lazio, Clinton ran ads that said, "Hillary has a plan to create 200,000 jobs." She also made the promise campaigning in the region, according to news reports from the time.
Clinton, of course, won the race and went on to serve eight years before being named secretary of state. But did she deliver on her promise?
The Trump campaign referred us to a Washington Post analysis of Clinton’s pledge. The story concluded that her efforts fell flat, but it doesn’t say the area lost jobs, either.
The Clinton campaign, meanwhile, forwarded us numbers compiled using data from New York’s Labor Department. By this count, upstate New York added about 100,000 jobs from the year before Clinton’s first year in the Senate (2000) to her last year (2008).
It’s worth noting, though, that this tally counts all jobs, including those in state and local government. The Clinton camp is also counting the Hudson Valley region, which includes five counties that the state government does not consider to be upstate New York. Furthermore, the data comes from a sample survey of unemployment that locates a job based on where someone lives rather than where the job is based. For example, a Westchester County resident who works in New York City government would be counted as employed in upstate New York by the Clinton camp’s tally.
If we look at just private-sector jobs and a universal count that locates a job based on where it actually is, upstate New York’s net gain in jobs is less impressive.
We used the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ quarterly census of employment and wages, and three different definitions of upstate New York. In the broadest sense, the region refers to everywhere in the state but New York City and Long Island. Another definition also excludes Westchester County in the Hudson Valley. And a third, the one used by the state government, pinches off four more downstate counties.
No matter how you slice and dice the state, Trump is right that Clinton didn’t meet her jobs target in the private sector. And his claim that the region actually lost jobs is accurate for the two stricter definitions.
Folding in public-sector jobs, Trump is still right that Clinton failed to live up to her pledge, but he’s wrong that the region lost jobs. By all three definitions of upstate New York, the area actually added jobs, though not nearly as many as Clinton promised.
Upstate New York didn’t make as strong of a recovery from the 2000 recession as the rest of the state or the country overall. During Clinton’s Senate tenure and before the 2008 recession hit, New York state gained about 134,000 jobs (85,000 in the private sector) while the country added almost 5 million jobs (3 million in the private sector).
"The Clinton campaign proposal to create 200,000 jobs appears to be pulled from thin air, not backed up by any calculation or details related to any particular policy proposal," said E.J. McMahon, research director of the Empire Center for Public Policy, a fiscally conservative think bank in Albany.
David Shaffer, former president of the Albany-based Public Policy Institute, told the Washington Post that the 200,000 jobs goal was unrealistic, but "to her credit," Clinton did try.
In her first year as senator, Clinton introduced a number of bills intended to spur jobs creation in the state, such as enacting a small business tax credit, updating technology infrastructure, providing financial and training assistance for local businesses and entrepreneurs. None of these proposals went anywhere. She tried again a few years later, but again to no avail.
In her 2006 re-election campaign and her 2008 bid for the White House, Clinton said she couldn’t deliver because of opposition from the Bush administration and a Republican Congress.
"When I made the pledge, I was counting on having a Democratic White House, a Democratic president, who shared my values about what we needed to do to make the economy work for everyone and to create shared prosperity," she said in 2008.
She continued, "And as you know, despite the difficulties of the Bush administration and a Republican Congress for six years of my first term, I have worked very hard to create jobs, but obviously as president I will have a lot more tools at my disposal."
Trump said Clinton "promised, running for the Senate years ago, 200,000 jobs for upstate New York. ... Not only didn't they come, but they lost so many jobs."
Trump is right that Clinton failed to bring 200,000 jobs to upstate New York, whether you’re counting all jobs or just jobs in the private sector.
His claim that the region actually lost jobs is accurate for private-sector jobs. But looking at the total employment picture, the region actually added between 3,800 and 52,000 jobs depending on how you define upstate New York.
We rate his claim Mostly True.
New York Times, "THE AD CAMPAIGN; Concern for the Economy Upstate," Nov. 2, 2000
Newsday, "UPSTATE ECONOMY AT ISSUE IN SENATE RACE" (subscription required), Oct. 4, 2000
Washington Post, "As senator, Clinton promised 200,000 jobs in Upstate New York. Her efforts fell flat," Aug. 7, 2016
Bureau of Labor Statistics queries
Email interview with Josh Schwerin, Clinton campaign spokesman, Sept. 29, 2016
Email interview with Steven Cheung, Trump campaign spokesman, Sept. 28, 2016
Email interview with E.J. McMahon, research director of the Empire Center for Public Policy, Sept. 29, 2016
Interview with Kevin Jack, analyst at the New York Department of Labor, Sept. 29, 2016
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