Team Romney is boosting that as governor of Massachusetts (January 2003 to January 2007), he lowered the state’s unemployment rate to 4.7%. He fails to put this in perspective in several ways. When he became governor, the state unemployment rate was only 5.6% as compared to the national unemployment rate, which was 5.8%. And when he was leaving office, the national unemployment rate had declined to 4.6%. In other words, he presided during a period when the overall economy was finally recovering from the 2001 recession.
Our graph shows another important qualification to Romney’s boost. The state’s labor force (LF) grew by a meager 0.4% during his tenure so employment (EM) only had to rise by 1.5% to lower the unemployment rate. Nationwide, employment growth (per the payroll survey) grew by 5.25%. In other words, there is not much to really brag about as far as employment in Massachusetts during Mitt Romney’s tenure as governor.