A new report out this month should end the debate over whether Louisiana’s economy has fallen behind the rest of the nation's under the leadership of Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat. Even the most talented of politicos would have a difficult time spinning the latest jobs data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics in Edwards' favor. But the governor’s trying anyway.
The BLS reports Louisiana was the only state in the nation to lose jobs in the past 12 months — the only one. BLS numbers also show Louisiana’s neighboring states realized significant job growth while the Pelican State lost jobs.
BLS reports that from June 2018 to July of this year, Mississippi had a net increase of jobs of 19,000, Alabama gained 40,000, Florida gained 227,000, and Texas realized a net increase in jobs of 323,000. This all happened while Louisiana lost 1,000 jobs.
Percentagewise, Mississippi saw an increase in the past 12 months of 1.6%; Alabama, 2%; Florida, 2.6%; and Texas, 2.6%. Louisiana, during the same time period, had a 0.1% decrease in jobs.
Republicans have been pounding the narrative that Edwards is to blame for Louisiana falling behind the nation and missing out on the red-hot economy created by President Donald Trump’s tax-cutting and regulation-reducing policies. Friday’s BLS report removes any doubt.
Edwards’ two Republican opponents, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone, were quick to pounce on the new BLS data.
“It’s just another example of John Bel Edwards’ failed leadership in Louisiana,” said Anthony Ramirez, a spokesman for Rispone. “We need a conservative outsider like Donald Trump to create jobs. That’s exactly what Eddie Rispone will do.”
“There’s no way to spin it: John Bel Edwards is a complete failure. Help is on the way,” said Abraham through a spokesman.
But Edwards is trying to spin it, claiming the state gained 4,800 over the past 12 months instead of losing 1,000. The governor’s referring to BLS job numbers not adjusted seasonally. It’s the seasonally adjusted numbers showing Edwards as the only governor in the nation to lose jobs over the past 12 months.
But which numbers are more accurate? The non-adjusted or the seasonally adjusted? BLS’s website says it uses seasonally adjusted numbers as standard practice “to counter labor market fluctuations due to seasonal events including changes in weather, harvests, major holidays, and school schedules. These seasonal adjustments make it easier to observe the cyclical, underlying trend, and other nonseasonal movements.”
But even if we go with the non-seasonally adjusted numbers Edwards prefers, they still reflect poorly on the governor when comparing them to our neighboring states. In the past 12-months, using these figures, Mississippi saw an increase of 23,900 jobs; Alabama, 40,200; Florida, 247,300; and Texas, 340,400. Compare Louisiana’s 4,800 jobs increase Edwards brags about, and you realize just how far behind Louisiana is falling behind her neighbors.
We should have seen this coming. So much of what Edwards has done has hurt the state’s economy. When he expanded Medicaid under Obamacare, creating 500,000 new government dependents, common sense would dictate the move had to discourage some part-time employees from seeking full-time work, fearing they’d lose their free health insurance. One in five in the state are now on Medicaid.
It was a big deal when Edwards signed an executive order practically gutting the ITEP incentives historically credited with bringing considerable manufacturing jobs to the state. The governor’s shake-down of oil executives has clearly caused us to miss out on the resurgence and growth of the industry currently enjoyed by other states. And we’re now paying a heavy price for the governor and legislators sucking billions out of the private sector economy in new taxes. When government goes to war with the private sector as it has under Edwards, of course we’ll fall behind other states.
The BLS report provides ample evidence Edwards’s economy has not kept pace with the Trump economy. While Trump’s pro-business and tax-lowering policies grew the national economy, Edwards’ tax-raising and anti-business bent has slowed and stagnated Louisiana’s economy. The numbers are conclusive and don’t lie.
Email Dan Fagan at email@example.com.