Republicans and Democrats on jobs

Republicans and Democrats are always at odds when it comes to economic policies.  Each opines on the benefits of their own and the perils of the other.  A great thing happened in 2010 for politics.  It was a year where new parties became occupants of the top State office all on promises to bring much-needed change that the other side couldn’t.  Unemployment rates and jobs were prominent platform issues for every politician that year.  Both Republicans and Democrats promised to institute their own political philosophies in an effort to get people back to work.  Let’s see how they did:

( — Voters in 17 states elected new Republican governors in November 2010. This new breed of fiscally-conservative, tea party-supported Republican governors took office in January 2011. Here is how those states have fared since then, in terms of their unemployment rates:

  • Kansas – 6.9% to 6.1% = a decline of 0.8%
  • Maine – 8.0% to 7.4% = a decline of 0.6%
  • Michigan – 10.9% to 8.5% = a decline of 2.4%
  • New Mexico – 7.7% to 6.7% = a decline of 1.0%
  • Oklahoma – 6.2% to 4.8% = a decline of 1.4%
  • Pennsylvania – 8.0% to 7.4% = a decline of 0.6%
  • Tennessee – 9.5% to 7.9% = a decline of 1.6%
  • Wisconsin – 7.7% to 6.8% = a decline of 0.9%
  • Wyoming – 6.3% to 5.2% = a decline of 1.1%
  • Alabama – 9.3% to 7.4% = a decline of 1.9%
  • Georgia – 10.1% to 8.9% = a decline of 1.2%
  • South Carolina – 10.6% to 9.1% = a decline of 1.5%
  • South Dakota – 5.0% to 4.3% = a decline of 0.7%
  • Florida – 10.9% to 8.6% = a decline of 2.3%
  • Nevada – 13.8% to 11.6% = a decline of 2.2%
  • Iowa – 6.1% to 5.1% = a decline of 1.0%
  • Ohio – 9.0% to 7.3% = a decline of 1.7%

The average drop in the unemployment rate in these states was 1.35%. For a comparison, in January 2011 the U.S. national unemployment rate stood at 9.1%. It is currently 8.2%, meaning that the national unemployment rate has declined by just 0.9% since then. Based on these percentages, it can be said that the job market in states with new Republican governors is improving a full 50% faster than the job market nationally.

Now let’s look at the eight states that elected new Democratic governors in 2010. Just like their Republican counterparts, these new Democratic governors took office in January 2011. Here’s how those states have fared since then, in terms of unemployment:

  • Colorado – 8.8% to 8.1% = a decline of 0.7%
  • New York – 8.2% to 8.6% = an increase of 0.4%
  • Oregon – 9.9% to 8.4% = a decline of 1.5%
  • California – 12.1% to 10.8% = a decline of 1.3%
  • Connecticut – 9.3% to 7.8% = a decline of 1.5%
  • Hawaii – 6.7% to 6.3% = a decline of 0.4%
  • Minnesota – 6.8% to 5.6% = a decline of 1.2%
  • Vermont – 6.0% to 4.6% = a decline of 1.4%

The average drop in the unemployment rate in these states was 0.95%, approximately the same as the drop seen nationally.

This information compounded with recent news that despite a 41% increase in welfare spending by President Obama, it has done nothing to lift people out of poverty or unemployment.  Obama and his supporters are proud of their job growth rates, which sadly, is lower than the rate of people signing up for disability.  This administration seems to be more focused on getting people signed up for government programs than getting them back to work.

Isn’t it funny (by funny, I mean sad) how differently Conservatives and Liberals measure success?


  1. That is good information and might say something about the effectiveness of the Republican policies versus those of the Democrats. But I think there is more to consider about what generates these unemployment numbers. Remember that while unemployment benefits are a federal and state sponsored safety net, the states have a great deal of flexibility in determining eligibility.

    I would take a page out of the conservative talking points handbook and say that at least some of the explanation for the disparity in unemployment numbers rests on “people giving up and leaving the workforce,” or maybe in this case, “people giving up on trying to receive benefits.” Republican led states (by most Republicans’ own admission) make it more difficult to receive unemployment and other state benefits.

    Think beyond the numbers themselves.

    If it is easier to receive unemployment benefits and other support in Democratic states, and the number of people receiving these benefits is what is used to determine the unemployment numbers you are citing, then it is really no surprise that fewer people are considered unemployed in the 17 states that offer less incentives to the unemployed.

    If you want to have the argument about what should or should not be offered to the unemployed, we can have that argument. But in my opinion, comparing the unemployment in red and blue states is apple and oranges unless the processes which determine and incentivize unemployment are the same.

    Either way, we are analyzing 1.35% vs. .95%. I wouldn’t want to rest any definitive conclusions on 0.4%.

  2. .4 is merely the percentage point. But it represents about a 30% advantage.

Any Thoughts?

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