Does having Repubs in charge lead to a better economy?

Bruce Maples (bruceinlouisville@gmail.com)
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There’s a meme making the rounds as we come up to the election. It references the recent news that the number of people in the Kentucky workforce is the greatest it’s ever been, and then goes on to say “This is what happens when you have a Republican governor, a Republican Senate, and a Republican House!”

It’s standard operating procedure for parties in charge to crow about good news. As a stats guy, though, I wanted to see if this was actually true, or if the Kentucky workforce numbers were less about politics and more about the overall economy. Or, to put it a little more graphically, if the Republican flea was bragging about how fast the dog under it was running.

Republicans bragging about their effect on the Kentucky economy is like a flea bragging about how fast the dog under it is running.Click To Tweet

So, I pulled some numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and then got the partisan makeup of each state’s legislature and governor, and put it all into a table. I then sorted by percentage improvement in workforce numbers from last September to this September. And, voila:

Well, looky there – the state with the most employment growth has a Democratic gov and a Democratically-controlled legislature. In fact, of the 27 states that made the list of “states with statistically significant employment growth” in September, 10 had Democratic trifectas, and 3 more had bipartisan governance.

And, the growth is pretty much all over the country – because the economy has been growing pretty much all over the country.

So, Kentucky Repubs, you can crow all you want – but the actual statistics tell a different story. Just like Steve Beshear didn’t deserve blame for the economic crash in 2008, Matt Bevin doesn’t deserve credit for being able to grab some of the record growth happening all across the country. In fact, looking at the table, Kentucky’s 1.4% growth begins to pale next to some of the other states, both red and blue.

It’s great that we have as many people working as we do. But instead of claiming partisan advantage, let’s instead focus on the many people without jobs, and the fact that the jobs are in one part of our state and the people needing the jobs are largely in another part of the state … then let’s work across the aisle to figure out how to get our state higher on this list next September.

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