DES MOINES — Gov. Terry Branstad’s contention that his administration has achieved the job-creation goal he set during the 2010 campaign did not sit well with some critics on Monday.
During a fiscal 2017 budget presentation, Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development, included a slide indicating that 206,200 gross jobs have been created in Iowa since 2011, based upon current employment statistics.
“We hit that mark last week,” said Branstad, who requested that Townsend back up the slideshow to re-emphasize that the number of jobs created since he returned to office in January 2011 had topped the 200,000 goal he set during his campaign to defeat incumbent Democrat Chet Culver.
“The fact is we’ve had tremendous success,” Branstad said later. “This is the first time it’s gone over 200,000. But we’re not going to let up. We’re going to keep focusing on bringing good quality jobs to Iowa.”
Within hours of the budget hearing, Mike Owen, executive director of the Iowa City-based Iowa Policy Project, issued a statement calling the job growth claims “bogus” and demanding that Townsend “retract this inaccurate picture.”
“It’s clearly a bogus number, and it has no business being in an official presentation or document of any kind by a state agency. This is totally a political number. It has nothing to do with math or economics,” Owen said in an interview. “It has no basis in reality.”
According to Owen’s analysis of Iowa’s job data, the actual number of jobs added in Iowa since January 2011 is 101,700 — a number that he said represented a full accounting of jobs added and jobs lost in all major job sectors tracked through the official Current Employment Statistics. The information is available, he said, on the Iowa Workforce Development website.
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In deflecting the Iowa Public Policy criticism, Branstad said, “We’ve always said gross jobs, not net. They want to use net jobs.”
“We’ve got it down to 3.5 percent unemployment. Every county in this state has a lower unemployment rate than the day I took office,” the governor said. “Any way you look at it, it’s been a success, and we’re proud of it.”