Politics

Virginia’s economic growth in McAuliffe’s term as governor trailed peer states

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe boasts that he presided over booming economic growth in the Commonwealth during his time as governor, but the numbers show a different story.

Mr. McAuliffe, running for a second, non-consecutive four-year term against Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin, repeatedly describes himself on the campaign trail as a jobs governor who “created 200,000, new high-paying jobs.”

Since 2009, when Mr. McAuliffe first ran for governor, he promised to “create more jobs than all the other 49 governors.” He made the same promise at a 2013 debate during his second run for governor. He followed up with the pledge each year after that until 2017 during his term as governor.

“I did it before, and they all know with a Democratic legislature, boy, I feel bad for those other 49 states cause I’m telling you Virginia is going to lead the country,” he told CNN in March.

However, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in December 2013, immediately before Mr. McAuliffe took office, employment in Virginia was 4,021,840. In January 2018, by the end of McAuliffe‘s term, employment was 4,204,892. That is an increase of 183,052 jobs, or 4.6%.

Other states, including neighboring Maryland, all increased jobs by a higher percentage. This includes Florida (10.2%), Georgia (11.9%), North Carolina (8.5%), South Carolina (7.5%), Tennessee (9.5%), Texas (8.1%), and Maryland (12.8%).

Had Virginia employment grown at the competitor state average of 9.8%, Virginia would have added 394,140 jobs during Mr. McAuliffe‘s tenure as governor.

Additionally, Mr. McAuliffe‘s jobs number, compared to Virginia governors immediately before him, is relatively average. Republican Gov. George Allen left office with 313,300 net new jobs and Republican Gov. James S. Gillmore III finished his term creating 221,000. Democratic Gov. Mark Warner netted 207,300 new jobs.

The former governor also says often that Virginia’s “personal income went up 14%” while he was in office.

The state’s personal income did grow 14.6% during Mr. McAuliffe‘s time as governor, but the average growth in neighboring states was an average 2.5 percentage points higher.

According to statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Florida’s personal income grew 19.7%. Georgia’s spiked 19.0%, while Maryland shot to 15.1%. North Carolina went to 15.8%, South Carolina grew to 17.7% and Tennessee increased to 15.5%. 

Finally, although McAuliffe left office with a 3.7% unemployment rate, Old Dominion University’s annual “State of the Commonwealth Report,” released in 2017, noted that Virginia’s growth lagged the rest of the country for the previous six years and the state’s economy hardly grew.

“Virginia’s economy expanded during McAuliffe‘s tenure, but that’s hardly surprising given that the national economy grew during that period. To assess whether McAuliffe made a difference, you want to compare Virginia to other states,” Dan Mitchell, a fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute and co-founder of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, told The Washington Times. “On that basis, he doesn’t look good. It’s not just that job growth and income growth lagged compared to zero-income tax states such as Florida and Texas. Virginia even lagged behind high-tax Maryland when comparing jobs and income.”

The Washington Times reached out to a McAuliffe campaign spokesman for a response and did not hear back. The Virginia governor’s election is scheduled for November 2. 

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