Why you can’t trust PolitiFact

Via “What liberal media?” (Texas edition) — The math was clear: Texas could rightly make this claim:

“In the last five years, we’ve created more jobs than all other states combined.”

It was based on the right data: Net jobs added.  But instead of acknowledging what an amazing accomplishment it was, PolitiFact tried to spin it as some sort of half-truth.  Shouldn’t the energy be put into assessing what Texas has done right rather than making a lame attempt to discredit its accomplishments?  It isn’t like there aren’t tens of millions of people on food stamps and/or unemployed.

This is, in fact, objectively true, and you may verify it yourself at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data page. (We posted the graph and numbers here.) Suffice it to say that when the commercial was filmed, the latest confirmed BLS employment data was January 2011’s. Going back five years through January 2006 revealed that only ten states saw a net increase in jobs in that period — Texas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Alaska, Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Montana. Texas’s total was 545,900 new jobs. The other nine states combined came to 183,700 new jobs. Call this what you will — we call it a resounding vindication of the Texas model of low taxes and small government — but don’t call it inaccurate.

Let’s review something for a moment. To use “created more jobs,” or any of its variants — “job creation,” “created jobs,” et al. — to signify a net increase in jobs is a de facto universal rhetorical standard. It’s so common as to be assumed, and no reasonable person reads or hears otherwise. To pick just a few examples: Here’s President Barack Obama doing it. Here’s Gallup doing it. Here’s Michael Powell of the New York Times doing it. Here’s Dennis Cauchon of USA Today doing it. Here’s Pietro Garibaldi and Paolo Mauro of the International Monetary Fund doing it. Here’s Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke doing it. Here’s Peter Cohan of Forbes doing it. Here’s Reuters and CNBC doing it. Here’s Peter Boyer of Newsweek doing it.

The idea that Brooke Rollins would mean anything but net jobs created in her quote defies credulity. News-savvy readers may recall the White House’s own rhetorical dodge on this count from late 2009, when the chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors invoked the phrase “jobs saved or created” to concoct a net-positive figure on employment resulting from the federal stimulus. The widely derided lexical formulation was swiftly discarded, and with good reason: touting job creation in the absence of net job creation is rightly regarded as insulting or deceptive.

If you trust the liberal media you aren’t using good critical thinking skills.

4 thoughts on “Why you can’t trust PolitiFact”

  1. Even if accurate, it still doesn’t address what kind of jobs have been created. For instance, How many of them are part time? How many are minimum wage? How many people already had a full time job, and now have added a part time job to help them pay the bills created by unsound fiscal governmental policies? It doesn’t slow unemployment it only manipulates the numbers.

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  2. To what are you referring, Mark? If the jobs created are as you fear, they are still jobs created at a rate far superior to the next nine states. I trust you’re not suggesting that no jobs are better than part time or minimum wage jobs. Getting people back to work it the first priority. If that can only be done with low wage and/or part time jobs, so be it. We can’t scream for jobs and then bitch about the quality of them. Like you, I took a job that pays less than the job from which I was laid off. I now work more hours per week than I ever did just to make close to the same pay. It provides more income than unemployment and I don’t have to hear crap about drawing it to support my family. I’m better off, though not as well off as prior to Dec ’08. I’ll take it. Most out of work right now would. And because I’m working and earning, I’m paying off bills and getting things we’ve had to put off, which is adding to the economy. It’s all good, even though it ain’t as good as I’d like.

    If Texas is leading the way in job creation, even the creation of lesser jobs, they still are doing that which other states need to adopt and apply until a better plan is devised.

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  3. Sorry I didn’t make myself clear, Art. No, I’m not saying that part time or minimum wage jobs are not better than no job at all. I’m just saying that many people are now working two to three jobs just to earn what they earned before the economy tanked. These second and third jobs make the unemployment numbers look better, but in reality, there are probably as many or more actual people unemployed now as ever.

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  4. Having just driven from El Paso to Houston, I was amazed at the traffic; a sign, I often remind myself when stuck in it, of a vibrant economy. Now it makes sense to me.

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