Fact Checker: Shumlin’s claim he’s added 7,500 jobs mostly false

With the 2012 campaign season in full swing, Seven Days has teamed up with VTDigger.org to create a fact-checker feature to test the “truthiness” of claims made by the candidates who want your vote this November. This week’s Fact Checker was written by Paul Heintz.

CLAIM: “We’ve added 7,500 new jobs in the state of Vermont since we got elected two years ago.”
— Gov. Peter Shumlin, campaign kickoff, September 10, 2012

FACTS: If you’ve spent any time listening to Gov. Peter Shumlin argue his case for a second term, you’ve heard the number 7,500. That’s how many jobs he says have been created in Vermont since he took office in January 2011.

Shumlin’s campaign says it arrived at that figure by comparing the Vermont Department of Labor’s tally of not-seasonally-adjusted, nonfarm jobs between January 2011 and June 2012. And, indeed, the number increased by 7,550 during that time frame — from 296,600 to 304,150 jobs.

But the story doesn’t end in June. In July, the number of nonfarm jobs dropped 4,950 to 299,200. And in August, it dipped another 900 to 298,300. Throughout Shumlin’s 21 months in office, therefore, the number of not-seasonally-adjusted, nonfarm jobs has increased by just 1,700.

Of course, there’s a reason economists seasonally adjust employment figures: They tend to fluctuate in a fairly predictable pattern throughout the year. For instance, last summer’s June-to-July drop-off was similar to this past one; in 2011, the June-to-July nonfarm employment figure dropped from 299,450 to 292,950 — the lowest jobs figure of Shumlin’s tenure.

In December 2011, that figure surged to 308,100 — the highest of his tenure.

When employment numbers are seasonally adjusted, Shumlin’s record looks a little better — though not quite as rosy as he claims. Between January 2011 and August 2012, the number of seasonally adjusted, nonfarm jobs increased by 4,700 — from 298,500 to 303,200.

Another way to judge Shumlin’s economic record is to look at unemployment figures. Between January 2011 and August 2012, the seasonally adjusted number of unemployed Vermonters fell from 21,600 (6 percent) to 19,000 (5.3 percent). While unemployment is lower now than when Shumlin took office, it has actually increased during each of the past three months, from a low of 16,400 (4.6 percent) in May.

SCORE: Gov. Shumlin’s claim that Vermont has added 7,500 jobs during his tenure may have been true in June, but it’s not true anymore. Using his own criteria, the correct number would be 1,700. If Shumlin wants to provide an accurate sense of job creation during his tenure, he should shift to the seasonally adjusted measure, which shows an increase of 4,700 nonfarm jobs during his tenure. By cherry-picking the best numbers available to him, Shumlin exaggerates Vermont’s job growth during the past 21 months. We rate his claim “Mostly False.”

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  • Nice job digger!

  • That’s great. Another honest politician. Remember to reward his honesty with your vote in November.


    Nice analysis. But Please lets keep the status quo and Vote Shumlin/Democratic/Progressive in November! Change Yes we Can

  • Jed Guertin

    This is one of those times when it’s great to be an Independent voter.

    I doubt that Peter Shumlin has, in less than two years, had any significant impact on the Vermont economy or job market one way or the other.

    And I doubt, as Randy Brock suggests, that Schumlin is responsible for much of or any of the unemployment rate increase of 5.3%.

    But, we have the Republicans like Mitt Romney, who less than two weeks into the 1st year of the Obama Presidency was touting Obama’s failed policies.

    Democracy is a sloppy process, we won’t see the gains or losses from Peter Schumlin’s policies for another 2 years, if he’s re-elected. And we won’t see any of the gains or losses from the Obama policies for another 4 years.

    So I agree with the “Fact Checker” on this one.

    Sadly, it appears that these simplistic time correlations seem to be a political norm. Even sadder is that the American public buys into it.

  • David Usher

    Good work, Digger, in your fact checking focus. Rhetoric that plays fast and loose with facts and figures is a part of the political process and influences many voters who do not pay close attention.

    Concerning jobs, an item caught my eye by Art Woolf in today’s Burlington Free press which shows Vermont’s relentless growth in the number of people employed by state and local governments. Vermont has more people employed by government per 10,000 residents than all but 5 states and has been significantly above the average of all states for more than adecade. This fact goes a long way to explain why taxes are so high here.

    This increase in government employment is a direct result of Legislative policies that try to remedy every ill and politicians that believe government can do it…at an ever increasing cost. The ‘burden’ of government can and should be reduced in Vermont.

  • Kristin Sohlstrom

    If there was ever a reason to vote for Randy Brock for Governor, this is it. Recent endorsements of Gov. Shumlin are small in scale compared to We the People of Vermont.

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