From the outset, Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign has said it's his experience as a "job creator" that makes him a strong candidate. In many ways, the spin has it backwards: jobs are arguably Romney's weakest issue.
In recent months, thanks in large part to his Republican rivals, Romney's private sector background has become a major point of contention. He did, after all, become extremely rich orchestrating leveraged buyouts and laying off thousands of American workers at a "vulture capitalist" firm.
But that's not Romney's only experience; he also served one term as governor of Massachusetts, where he was able to put his job-creating ideas into practice. How'd that turn out? As Jia Lynn Yang reports today, not especially well.
Massachusetts was one of just four states that by the time of the financial crisis still had not recovered all the jobs they had lost during the 2001 recession. [...]Just one state had a bigger drop in its labor force during the same period, according to Sum — that was Louisiana, which was hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005."There was not one measure where the state did well under his term in office. We were below average and often near the bottom," said Sum, who is also the director of Northeastern's Center for Labor Market Studies.
All told, during Romney's tenure, his state's record on job creation was "one of the worst in the country," ranking 47th out of 50 states in job growth. It's one of the reasons Romney left office after one term deeply unpopular with his constituents.
Romney supporters can make a plausible case that some of the factors that hurt job creation in Massachusetts -- including the dot-com bust -- were not the governor's fault. That's true. But Romney also says job losses at the national level in early 2009 should be counted against President Obama, even though Obama inherited an economy on the brink of collapse, and that "excuses" don't count.
The result is an ugly picture. Romney oversaw mass layoffs in the private sector, and struggled badly to create jobs in the public sector, making it that much more challenging for the likely Republican nominee to connect with voters when unemployment is the top issue on the minds of voters.