Big-as-Texas job gains and number o' unemployed

Gov. Rick Perry's "New Jobs" ad

Could be that 850,000 is Gov. Rick Perry's favorite number, a reference to jobs added in Texas on his watch.

In contrast, Democratic nominee Bill White has talked up 1 million--nearly the number of unemployed Texans early  this year.

Jobs-related claims have rattled the Texas Truth-O-Meter.

Perry oft boasts that 850,000 jobs have been created in Texas on his watch--though that claim is disputed by White's camp, as we write in our latest article. White points out that the 850,000 net gain has slipped in recent months, as more jobs were lost in Texas. In the same article, we rate True Perry's statement that the number of new jobs created exceeds the population of Fort Worth.

Back track: In September, we rated True Perry's statement that we have created "more than 850,000 jobs, more than all the other states combined." In January 2001, shortly after Perry became governor, Texas had 9,542,400 nonfarm jobs. As of June: 10,395,800. That's a net gain of 853,400 jobs, a surge of 8.9 percent. Excluding Texas, all the states combined had a net job loss of 3,185,000 from January 2001 to June 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Without much objection, Perry has celebrated the Texas economy for years.

Still, he has sometimes stretched his case. We rated False his January 2009 statement that approximately 70 percent of jobs created in the United States in November 2007-2008 were in Texas. Perry's analysis overlooked that some new jobs were created in states with net job losses.

Perry critics have tried to hammer weaknesses in his employment-related boasts.

In August, we rated Half True a statement by the anti-Perry Back to Basics political action committee that Perry "has overseen the highest Texas unemployment in 22 years." While the group's year-by-year unemployment figures were correct, experts agree it's misleading to blame -- or credit -- the governor for them.

As Rice University political science professor Paul Brace put it, governors have little to do with statewide job losses or gains that take place on their watch. "Overall unemployment wasn't (Perry's) fault," Brace said, "but our relatively good performance also has little to do with what he did."

It also turns out that unemployment can go up even as the state is gaining jobs, because population is rising too.

In March, we rated True a White statement that there's "almost 1 million Texans who are unemployed and that's an all-time record number in our state."

Sometimes job-related claims get personal.

In April, we rated False a statement by White that Perry has never held a private-sector job. Perry grew up the son of a cotton farmer in Haskell; two former Haskell residents who"ve long known him told us he farmed and ranched during the 13 years between leaving the Air Force and being elected to his first statewide office as agriculture commissioner in 1990. One of them, semi-retired pharmacist Doyle High, who now lives in Austin, said Perry also worked as a private pilot.

For sure on the job front: The position of Texas governor--and dozens of other posts ranging from lieutenant governor down to precinct-level justices of the peace--will be filled by voters at the Nov. 2 election.



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