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Sorting out the truth in politics

Criticism of Romney record short on details

The statement

"When it comes to what little bit of job creation was happening in Massachusetts (when Mitt Romney was governor), it was happening in the public sector at six times the rate that it was happening in the private sector."

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, in an appearance on Meet the Press

The ruling

With the 2012 campaign focusing on the economy, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is making the case that President Barack Obama is a better job creator than Republican Mitt Romney.

"When it comes to what little bit of job creation was happening in Massachusetts, it was happening in the public sector at six times the rate that it was happening in the private sector," O'Malley, a Democrat, said on Meet the Press.

Massachusetts job numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show private-sector employment grew by 0.79 percent during Romney's term.

O'Malley said "public sector" in his claim, but that would also include local government jobs. That rate of increase was 1.57 percent — about double the private-sector rate, which is significantly lower than O'Malley's six-times claim.

O'Malley may have been referring to the state payroll, which saw a growth rate of 4.73 percent — just about six times the rate of private-sector growth. If he had specified state jobs, the area Romney presumably had the most control over, O'Malley would have been accurate.

Still, even that description is misleading because of the disparity in raw numbers between government and private-sector jobs. By using rate rather than the actual numbers, he gives the impression of a larger increase in public-sector jobs.

In raw numbers, private-sector jobs increased by 22,400, while state jobs grew by 5,300.

"The private sector accounted for a bigger share of all payroll employment gains in Massachusetts during Gov. Romney's term," said Gary Burtless, a labor market expert with the centrist Brookings Institution.

He added: "The more legitimate criticism of Gov. Romney's job creation record is that total payroll employment growth lagged far behind the experience of the rest of the country." For 2002 to 2006, the national growth rate was 5.2 percent, while Massachusetts' rate was just 0.7 percent.

O'Malley said Massachusetts' public sector payroll grew at six times the rate of the private sector under Romney.

The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details. That meets our definition of Half True.

This ruling has been edited for print. Read the full version at

Criticism of Romney record short on details 06/02/12 [Last modified: Saturday, June 2, 2012 4:31am]
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