Other states have lagged.
In the 12 full months since President Barack Obama’s reelection, payroll growth has been greater in states which supported his Republican challenger and in right-to-work states. Additionally, pro-Obama and non-right to work states have made far less progress in recovering jobs lost during the recession.
Here’s how overall seasonally adjusted payroll growth From November 2012 to November 2013 compared:
During the 12 months involved, according to the Establishment Survey at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 24 states which supported Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful 2012 presidential bid added 1.008 million jobs on top of the roughly 55 million they had at the beginning of the period. That 1.83 percent growth is 44 percent greater than the 1.28 percent payroll growth — 1.015 million jobs added to an already existing 79.5 million — seen in the 26 states and the District of Columbia which supported Obama.
Put another way, if the 27 Obama-supporting governmental entities had generated additional employment at the same rate as those which supported Romney, a far from inconsequential 442,000 more workers in those states would have jobs.
The story is similar when comparing states which have right to work laws to those which don’t.
Including Indiana and Michigan, which passed right to work laws in early 2011 and early 2012, respectively, the 24 right to work states added 1.080 million jobs on top of the 60.0 million they had at the start of the period. That payroll growth of 1.80 percent is about 42 percent greater than the 1.27 percent payroll growth — 943,000 jobs on top of an existing 74.5 million — seen in the Obama-supporting locales. The analogous jobs shortfall in the non-right to work entities is 397,000.
Interestingly, whether a state had a Republican or Democrat as a governor during the period was not as important as whether that state supported Obama or Romney. Payroll growth in GOP-governed states was 1.58 percent, compared to 1.40 percent in states with Democratic chief executives.
Two of the chief reasons this is the case are Ohio and Pennsylvania. Republican Governor John Kasich’s Buckeye State has seen payroll growth in the past 12 reported months of less than 20,000, or 0.30 percent. Tom Corbett’s Keystone State has only seen job growth of 0.58 percent. Less populous Alabama and New Mexico have also been significant GOP-governed laggards.
What is really telling is how well or poorly states in the categories discussed here have regained the jobs they lost during the last decade’s serious downturn:
For this analysis, I compared each state’s current payroll employment with their individual peak employment levels (except for Michigan, which almost continually bled jobs during the previous decade; I treated November 2007 as the Wolverine State’s “peak”).
The 28 entities which supported President Obama — including North Carolina, which supported Obama in 2008 but Romney in 2012 — are still 1.82 percent, or 1.572 million jobs, below their collective pre-recession employment peak of 86.2 million. Meanwhile, the states which supported Republican candidates in both 2008 and 2012 are only 0.55 percent, or 286,000 jobs, away from their previous combined peak of 52.2 million. If it weren’t for Florida, which is still short of its peak by 437,000 despite adding 183,000 jobs in the past 12 months, the overall result for GOP candidate-supporting states would have been positive.
Commenting on the Obama-Romney results in a phone conversation, Chris Dubay at the Heritage Foundation made a general observation that “States which tax less and regulate less do better economically.” The Romney states fit that description far better than those which supported Obama. Even after removing resource-rich Texas and North Dakota from the mix, the remaining Romney-supporting states saw 12-month job growth of 1.64 percent.
The 22 states which have been right to work since their pre-recession peak employment levels peaked (i.e., not including recent converts Indiana and Michigan) are only 0.78 percent, or 422,000, shy of where they were. The shortfall for the 29 non-right to work entities is still 1.71 percent, or 1.436 million jobs. The right to work number would also be positive if it weren’t for Florida, which under then-Republican, now-Democrat Charlie Crist lost an almost incomprehensible 922,000 jobs, or 11.4 percent of its peak workforce, from March 2007 to December 2009.
In an emailed response to a request for comment, Patrick Semmens of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation asserted that the better results in states with right to work laws “prove that giving workers a free choice when it comes to supporting and paying dues to a union is not just morally right, but also is the correct answer for creating a dynamic economy.”
These results would suggest that citizens and governments of the states which have supported Obama or are resisting the implementation of right to work laws should consider doing things differently if they wish to try to replicate the relative successes seen in the other states.