About that Romney job creation record

Anyone who wants to be president in January 2013 is talking about jobs, and for good reason. President Obama will unveil his new “plan” on Thursday night. Some candidates like Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul have a harder time, aside from the employees of their medical clinics. Herman Cain can certainly take credit for a fair number of them, but they mostly involve pizza. Rick Perry has a somewhat shorter speech on the subject, where he smiles, points a thumb over his shoulder and says, “Texas.”

But Matt Lewis at the Daily Caller points out that Mitt Romney may have a bit more complicated job if he wants to claim the mantle of job creation.

The central premise of former-Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is that he is a job creator whose private sector success demonstrates his expertise on the economy. “From my first day in office, my No. 1 job will be to see that America once again is No. 1 in job creation,” Romney said on Friday after another dismal U.S. jobs report. It was a line he had also delivered nearly three months earlier — the day he launched his presidential campaign…

But an analysis of available jobs data for Massachusetts under Romney’s tenure as governor shows Romney may have difficulty selling himself as a job creator at a time when out of work Americans are looking for results.

When Romney took office, there were 3,224,600 nonfarm seasonally adjusted jobs in Massachusetts. When he left office, there were 3,270,400, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (xls).

That means under Romney’s economic policies Massachusetts saw a net gain of only 45,800 jobs; a growth rate of 1.42 percent. Other estimates vary. For example, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development estimates job growth of 51,400 over that period. But in another analysis by Moody’s Economy.com, the number was lower: only 24,400.

That placed Massachusetts 47th among all states in job creation from January 2003 to January 2007. Nonfarm seasonally adjusted jobs across the United States grew by 5.265 percent throughout the entire U.S. The Romney economy in Massachusetts significantly underperformed compared to other states in terms of job creation.

Expect those numbers to come up over and over again in the primary debates. (And in the general as well if Romney winds up winning the nomination.) Creating jobs in a company that you own and operate is serious, real world experience to be sure. But employees are, by definition, part of a company. Making the magic work to attract jobs when you’re a chief executive (e.g. governor of a state) is a feat which translates much more directly to the role of president.

Of course, will Rick Perry even need to open up this line of attack on Romney? Given the latest poll numbers for the Texas governor (including the “intensity quotient“) how much time will he spend going after his primary opponents and how much will he simply steal Romney’s schtick and go directly after Obama like he’s already got the nomination in the bag?

UPDATE: Here’s a video clip of Jon Huntsman hitting Romney on just this point.