PoliGraph: Michel jobs claim incorrect

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Republican legislators say their big goal for the coming legislative session is to grow jobs by reducing taxes and rolling back regulations, among other things.

To underscore the need for the state Senate Republican’s plan to grow jobs, Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel pointed out that the number of private sector jobs in Minnesota has fallen to 1998 levels.

“We have the same number of jobs in 2011 as we did in 1998,” Michel said in an Oct. 24, 2011, press conference to announce his caucus’s plan. “Since the recession hit in 2007, 2008, we have fallen back to 1998 private sector job levels.”

Though Minnesota’s employment took a hit with the recession, the state still has more jobs now than it did in 1998.

The Evidence

The average number of private sector jobs for the first three quarters of 2011 is about 2.242 million, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. That’s using non-seasonally adjusted employment counts.

That’s about 78,000 more jobs than the average of 2.164 million in the first three quarters of 1998. To put that figure in perspective, 78,000 jobs is roughly the same number of jobs 3M has worldwide.

Even looked at another way – a month-to-month comparison — Minnesota has more jobs now than it did in 1998. A comparison of jobs figures that are seasonally adjusted yields the same result.

Chris Van Guilder, a spokesman for Michel, pushed back. He said that in the context of the millions of jobs the state supports, the difference of 78,000 jobs over more than a decade isn’t significant enough to label his boss’ statement false.

UPDATE: On Saturday, Oct. 29, Sen. Michel sent PoliGraph this graph as additional sourcing for his claim. The visual still shows that Minnesota has more jobs now than it did in 1998, but Michel said he relied on the graph because it makes his broader point that the state lost a significant number of jobs in recent years. The graph shows a sharp decline in jobs around the time of the recession; according to DEED’s numbers, Minnesota has roughly the same number of jobs now as it did between 2003 and 2004.

The Verdict

Though Minnesota lost a lot of jobs as a result of the recession, Michel is incorrect that Minnesota has the same level of private sector employment now as it did in 1998.

PoliGraph rates this claim false.

SOURCES

Minnesota State Senate, clips from Oct. 24, 2011, press conference, accessed Oct. 28, 2011

Minnesota State Senate Republican Caucus, Senate Republican Caucus Announces Jobs Agenda for 2012 Legislative Session, Oct. 24, 2011

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Total Minnesota private sector employment 1990-2011, accessed Oct. 28, 2011

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Total Minnesota employment, seasonally adjusted 1990-2011, accessed Oct. 28, 2011