Facebook Twitter Tumblr Close Skip to main content
A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Pro-Kasich Ad’s Misplaced Job Boast

A new TV ad boasts that Ohio Gov. John Kasich has created 400,000 jobs in his state and will do the same for Michigan as president. But Michigan actually has gained more jobs than Ohio during Kasich’s time in office, both in raw numbers and in the rate of job growth.

The pro-Kasich super PAC New Day for America is running the ad in Michigan. Although Kasich has yet to win a primary or caucus, his campaign is hoping pick up some momentum by using the Michigan primary on March 8 as a springboard into the Ohio primary on March 15.

The ad is called “Talk” — as in, Kasich is the only Republican presidential candidate who has done more than talk, particularly when it comes to creating jobs.

“He’ll do for Michigan what he’s done for Ohio, create jobs,” the narrator says. “In Ohio, 400,000. Brought ’em back from Mexico and China … You want jobs? You want John Kasich.”

We’ve checked this 400,000 figure before, as it is a frequent talking point of Kasich’s and has come up in at least two debates. The total number of jobs in Ohio is up about 383,500 since Kasich took over as governor in January 2011. Kasich’s campaign has said he’s talking only about private-sector jobs (as did New Day for America when we asked for backup material on the ad). And it’s true that Ohio added 400,700 private-sector jobs from January 2011 to December 2015, according to the latest figures available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It’s also true that Kasich has played a role in luring some jobs back from Mexico and China. For example, Trump falsely took credit last year for getting Ford to move truck manufacturing lines from Mexico to Ohio, but Ford executives in 2011 credited Kasich for making the deal happen.

However, as we have written in the past, Ohio’s private-sector job growth rate of 9.3 percent during Kasich’s tenure lags behind the national private-sector growth rate of 11.7 percent. And Ohio has trailed Michigan in job growth during that time, even though the narrator of the ad says Kasich will “do for Michigan what he’s done for Ohio, create jobs.”

Michigan added 425,600 private-sector jobs from January 2011 to December 2015. That’s nearly 25,000 more private-sector jobs than Ohio added during the same period. Michigan is also less populous than Ohio, so its private-sector job growth rate outpaced Ohio’s 13 percent to 9.3 percent.

Looking at all jobs — which includes government jobs — Ohio saw a job growth rate of 7.6 percent from January 2011 to December 2015. That lags behind the national growth rate of 9.5 percent over the same period. Compared with its neighbors, Ohio’s growth rate was better than West Virginia (0.4 percent) and Pennsylvania (3.4 percent), but worse than Indiana (8.8 percent), Michigan (10 percent) and Kentucky (8.6 percent). During that time, Michigan added 389,500 total jobs — 6,000 more than Ohio.

There are a lot of ways to present employment statistics and we generally caution readers to be wary of governors citing employment gains or losses without considering the prevailing national and regional trends. For example, in August, when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie touted the creation of 192,000 private-sector jobs during his time as governor, we noted that New Jersey’s job growth rate was less than half the national average and ranked the state 44th out of 50 states.

It can also be instructive to look at unemployment rates. Under Kasich, Ohio’s unemployment rate has generally tracked the national trend. Ohio’s rate of 9.2 percent in January 2011 was slightly above the national average of 9.1 percent. And at 4.8 percent in December, it was slightly below the national average of 5 percent. By comparison, Michigan — at 10.9 percent — was nearly 2 percentage points higher than the national average back in January 2011; and at a rate of 5.1 percent in December, it was nearly identical to the national rate of 5 percent.