The nation’s economic “recovery” continues to stagger along in fits and jags, with some months being better than others and a lot of unanswered questions in terms of the quality of the jobs that are being created. But not all the news has been dismal. There is also unevenness in the hiring landscape regionally, and some places have been doing considerably better than others. One metric for seeing how this is playing out is provided by The Business Journals and their current ranking of 45 governors based on their job creation record. Five governors who were sworn in this year were not rated, as not enough data has been reported and accumulated yet.
There seems to be more than a few hints in this data which could lead to some interesting conclusions. Let’s start off by looking at who came in at the top five on the list. (The links on each name will take you to job creation details for each governor. The rest are available at the link.)
You can probably pick up a few consistent themes with only a quick glance at that list. First, these are all red states with Republican governors. (Duh.) The top two are energy producers, where the government has moved aggressively to employ new technology to expand America’s domestic production potential. Louisiana probably benefits from the continued recovery from natural disasters, returning population and a lot of rebuilding, in addition to fairly sound fiscal management. And they are all states which have worked to foster a business (and job) friendly tax environment since the meltdown a few years ago.
Tennessee was something of a puzzler to me, though the results are undeniable. Since taking office in 2011, TN Governor Bill Haslam has seen an increase of roughly 150,000 jobs from the approximately 2.2 million jobs in the state when he was sworn in. I tend to think of the Volunteer State being very heavy in tourism jobs for the urban areas, with some level of agricultural activity in the rural zones, so it was a bit surprising to see them doing so well during a stagnant economic period.
So who came in at the bottom?
Well, four of those five were Republicans too, so there’s another perfectly good theory shot to H. E. Double toothpicks. I was particularly surprised to see Pennsylvania on that end of the list, given the boom in shale drilling they’ve experienced there over the last few years. But that really only benefits the center of the state, (“Pennsyltucky” as it’s known) and may not be providing enough of a surge to overcome the collapse in the cities. There’s nothing anecdotal about the other four which jumps out at me immediately, but perhaps some of you more familiar with the details in those states can chime in.