Today, the Columbus Dispatch did a story that discussed some of what we’ve been discussing about the economy for months: Kasich’s political rhetoric when it comes to the economy does not match the economic reality reflected in Ohio’s monthly jobs reports. On Friday, we learned that Ohio was #2 in job losses in the country for the month of September after three straight months of increasing unemployment after Ohio saw a streak of 14 months of constant dropping unemployment that began in early 2010 when Ted Strickland was Governor.
Kasich’s economic argument isn’t based on these job reports. Instead, he likes to focus ancedotally on how much money he’s doled out to various companies to retain them or get them to promise to create new jobs. I would tend to think that anytime you’re resorting to ancedotal evidence because the hard, objective data doesn’t work for you would be the end of the debate. You’ve lost.
But then an economist quoted by the Dispatch comes to Kasich’s defense and says something that I think reveals his personal bias in favor of Kasich:
Ned Hill, a professor of economics at Cleveland State University, said unemployment rates typically rise in the early stages of an economic recovery because more people are looking for work, and “no sane economist looks at the unemployment rate” to gauge a state’s economic performance.
Look, you can review Dr. Hill’s creditials and see that he’s a pro-school “choice” advocate who’s been favored by the Republican leaning Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, and determine whether you think he has a political bias or not. (He also served on Lee Fisher’s transition team to the Ohio Department of Development). But there’s two problems I have factually with what Dr. Hill said. First, his statement would seem to presume that Ohio wasn’t in an economic recovery during the fourteen months of constantly dropping unemployment that began in February 2010. He doesn’t even recognize that it occurred, which is a bizarre thing to do if you’re trying to judge whether Ohio is under a stronger recovery under Governor Kasich or not.
Second, he advances a “theory” that Ohio’s unemployment rate went up three months because we’re in a recovery, and people were re-entering the labor market after giving up looking for work before the recovery. Well, a theory is only as good as it is not seemingly disproven by objective, hard data. And I would like to believe that an economics professor would check the available, objective data before advancing such a theory, which just happens to be the same excuse used by Governor Kasich. I believe that’s something I learned about the scientific method in junior high by one of Kasich’s “union thugss,” also known as a public school teacher.
The U.S. Department Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services already measures the labor force population in Ohio. If Dr. Hill’s theory were correct, we’d expect to see that the labor population grew in the months in June, July, and August when the unemployment rate grew. Right?
But it didn’t. Not a single one of those months. Instead, the data shows Ohio’s labor market population shrank by 33,000. The objective data is contrary to Dr. Hill’s hypothesis and assumption. Therefore, his theory is entirely invalid.
That’s the difference in what happened during Strickland and Kasich. For the last eight out of the fourteen months in which Ohio’s unemployment rate began decreasing under Strickland, Ohio’s labor market was growing. In other words, our unemployment rate was still dropping because new jobs were being created at a faster rate than people re-entering in the labor market. That is a tell-tale sign of a strong recovery.
The opposite is true for Kasich. In fact, the only reason the months of June-August didn’t reflect a higher spike in unemployment than it did was because the rate in which previously employed individuals reported that they were now unemployed just slightly outpaced the rate people were dropping out of the labor market altogether. Dr. Hill is objectively wrong.
What Dr. Hill should have said was to reject the notion that a Governor has that much control or influence over the economy in the first place. Instead, he accepted the assumption that Strickland and Kasich are responsible for the economy and then tried to give a theory as to why Kasich is doing well even though the unemployment rate in Ohio would suggest otherwise. And even then, he defended Kasich with a theory that is already refuted by publicly available, objective data about the economy.
Just thought you all would like to know that.