Throughout the many Republican presidential debates held so far, Gov. John Kasich pumps his “Ohio Story.” People unfamiliar with the crusty Kasich may believe that all is super wonderful back home.  But as real job data has shown, time after time, Mr. Kasich’s rhapsody of how his administration turned the state around rings hollow for deep diving number crunchers.

Deep Diving Kasich’s Job Numbers

Ohio’s preeminent job number cruncher again popped Kasich’s hot air balloon on job creation. George Zeller, based in Cleveland, offered another detailed analysis of what the latest numbers say about how the Buckeye State is faring.

It’s faring better, but not so much so as to undergird Gov. Kasich’s claim that he’s got the recipe to produce enough jobs to go around for all those who lost jobs during the Great Recession and before. Republicans have controlled Ohio, from top to bottom, since 1994 with the exception of a four-year period from 2006-2010, when Democrats owned four of the five statewide offices and the Ohio House for a brief two-year stint.

It’s a fact that former Gov. Ted Strickland inherited an already slipping economy, that was subsequently pummeled by the Great Recession, the second worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. Republicans have refused to acknowledge, beyond overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that it was anything more than a garden variety turn down Gov. Strickland should have handled. For all but a couple states, the Great Recession devastated local economies, irrespective of the political party in charge at the time of governorships and state legislatures.

According to Mr. Zeller, Ohio is still 16,900 jobs shy of meeting the number that existed before the deep and lengthy 2007-2009 national Great Recession. Further complicating the numbers, he notes that “Ohio still remains 199,100 jobs short of the jobs that it has lost since the 2000-2002 national recession more than a decade ago.” Bottom line for Mr. Zeller: “the need for additional improvement in Ohio’s rate of recovery remains urgent.”

“Further improvements in subsequent weeks are still urgently needed so that 199,100 Ohio workers who have lost their jobs since 2000 and the 16,900 workers who still cannot find a job following the very deep and lengthy 2007 ‘Great Recession’ will be able to find a new job.”

On stage Thursday night in North Charleston, South Carolina, with six other GOP candidates who polled high enough to make the prime time debate, the first of the year and the penultimate before voting starts in Iowa caucuses in a little over two weeks, Gov. Kasich repeated his claim of creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. Fact checkers will know that Ohio’s turnaround started under Gov. Strickland, who cobbled together state and federal resources to keep Ohio from falling into an even deeper recession. In charge of a state already floundering, Mr. Strickland took office just before the Great Recession slammed the nation. Even a cursory look at job numbers show the one-term Democrat took a licking but kept on ticking, reversing unemployment for the remainder of his term. Citizen Kasich entered office better off from $1 billion in state revenue, as a result of Gov. Strickland’s wise management in the face of daunting circumstances.

When Gov. Kasich says Ohio was “dead” when he took over, his nose should grow long for falsely leading his listeners to believe that he alone made the tough decisions needed to turn Ohio around. He stepped onto a ship of state rising with the tide that included jobs gains that consistently out performed the national average for job creation.

On this point alone, Gov. Kasich fails to shine. In fact, according to Mr. Zeller, he’s now 37 straight months into under-performing the national average of job creation, with Ohio ranking in the bottom half of states year-over-year, according to the well-respected W.P. Carey School of Business state economic rankings.