POLITICS
09/03/2012 05:36 pm ET

Romney Campaign And Gov. Kasich Have Different Views On Ohio's Jobs

The Romney campaign blasted out an email to reporters on Monday declaring that in the critical "swing states," voters were doing worse under the president. And the first state the release chose to highlight was Ohio, where, according to the campaign, "Middle-Class Jobs 'Are Disappearing.'"

The email highlights a Cleveland Plain Dealer report that "Six of the 10 fastest-growing occupations are lower-paying, most with median hourly pay less than $2 above Ohio's minimum wage of $7.70."

It certainly is true that jobs have been hard to come by in the current economy and that what is available often entails poor benefits or salaries. It's also true that the crisis hasn't discriminated between swing and non-swing states. But highlighting Ohio is an odd choice for the Romney campaign, not just because the state's unemployment rate of 7.2 percent is more than a full percentage point below the national average of 8.3 percent, but because it wasn't even a week ago that Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) was touting the improving situation in his state.

"We are up 122,000 jobs and the auto industry job growth is 1,200," Kasich said while on a job-creation panel hosted by The Huffington Post and NBC, during the Republican National Convention. "It would surprise everybody in here that our fastest growing areas are health care, business services, financial services. Manufacturing is a core of ours, but we no longer rely on one. We believe in logistics, energy ... It is really growing. We just got IBM to announce a data analytics operation in Columbus. You think about health care, you can start with the Cleveland clinic.

"So, we are diverse now. So instead of relying on one sector, we don't do that anymore. But it is pretty interesting, isn't it, of the 122,000 jobs -- and we are grateful for the auto jobs, 1,200. So it is kind of hard to argue that the resurgence has been caused by that. The resurgence has been caused by the fact that we've balanced our budgets and have common sense rules ... We have made it safe for people to invest in Ohio."

Kasich undersold the impact of the auto bailout slightly. The Center for Automotive Research reported in May 2009 that government intervention helped save 154,843 jobs in Ohio alone ("save," as opposed to create). The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, meanwhile, shows that since June 2009, 13,000 jobs have been added in Ohio in the motor vehicle manufacturing, motor vehicle parts manufacturing, and motor vehicle and parts dealers sectors.

Finally, another reason that Ohio's unemployment rate has improved, compared to the country at large, is that some Ohioans are leaving the state.

Still, it's tough to reconcile how Kasich could claim his state was undergoing a "resurgence" while Romney's campaign can insist people are worse off -- even if the Ohio governor could take all the credit for the turnaround (as Romney has tried to give him).

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