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Rauner gets “fact checked” over job loss numbers

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014

* looks at a claim made in a recent Bruce Rauner TV ad

Republican Bruce Rauner claims in TV ads that Illinois has lost 90,000 jobs in five years under Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. But Illinois has lost 3,400 jobs in five years — not 90,000 — by the standard definition of “jobs” used by practically all economists and journalists. […]

But the campaign is using BLS data that are not commonly used to measure jobs gained or lost. Rauner bases his figure on surveys of people in households, rather than on a much larger survey of millions of actual payroll records.

BLS has two sets of monthly employment data: the Local Area Unemployment Statistics program, which is based on the Current Population Survey (commonly known as the household survey), and the Current Employment Statistics program, which is based on payroll surveys of establishments and government agencies (known as the payroll survey). Mike Schrimpf, a spokesman for the Rauner campaign, said the claim is based on the household survey. Quinn took office on Jan. 29, 2009. The household survey data show there were 6,067,701 jobs in January 2009 and 5,982,030 as of January 2014 — a decline of nearly 86,000 jobs.

But the payroll survey — not the household survey — is used by practically all economists, journalists and politicians when measuring jobs. It’s what journalists use when writing stories about job gains or losses and what BLS posts prominently on its website as the prime indicator of job growth or loss. By that measure, Illinois has lost only 3,400 jobs under Quinn, with total nonfarm employment declining from 5,803,600 in January 2009 to 5,800,200 in January 2014.

What’s the difference between household and payroll surveys?

Both are monthly surveys. But the payroll data — technically called “total nonfarm employment, seasonally adjusted” — is projected from payroll records at 144,000 establishments and government agencies at 554,000 work sites nationwide. By contrast, the household survey uses a much smaller sample — about 60,000 households. The household survey is used to calculate the unemployment rate, but the payroll data is “considered to be the more accurate employment indicator,” as the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco explains in a Q&A about why the Fed uses payroll data to analyze employment trends. […]

Rauner’s larger point about the performance of the state’s economy is accurate. Illinois has lost jobs under Quinn, even though the U.S. has seen a net gain of 3.7 million jobs since January 2009. The state’s unemployment rate is 8.7 percent, up from 8 percent in January 2009, while the U.S. rate has declined from 7.8 percent to 6.7 percent. But the state’s job losses may not be as large as the Rauner campaign claims.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Steve - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 9:59 am:

    Can understand why Pat Quinn doesn’t like Texas: he doesn’t want job growth. Pat is pro-welfare, he’d rather have people relying on government because they tend to vote for Pat’s statist party.

  2. - Southwest Cook - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:05 am:

    “Illinois has lost jobs under Quinn, even though the U.S. has seen a net gain of 3.7 million jobs since January 2009.”

    That’s an even worse stat for Quinn. If Illinois had kept pace with the rest of the nation, we would have had roughly 150,000 more jobs instead of losing some. No need to cherry-pick stats, Rauner. There’s plenty to go around.

  3. - MrJM - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:05 am:

    You have some very compelling ideas, Steve. Do you have a mimeographed newsletter to which we can subscribe?

    – MrJM

  4. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:08 am:


    Oh please. “Pro-welfare?” “Statist?” Do you get a national talking points memo in the mail every week so you know what to say?

  5. - anon - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:09 am:

    Thank god for fact checkers. Rauner continues to believe that his money means he can do or say whatever he wants. I have a serious question. Fact check says the state has actually lost 3400 jobs. Is this number reflected in the unemployment rate going from 8% to 8.7%, or are there other factors that contribute to that?

  6. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:11 am:

    Won’t matter to Rauner. Lying to Bernie, claiming crime is skyrocketing…. he’ll keep going this way til November.

  7. - OneMan - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:17 am:

    Then again, I suspect if all the jobs the state said various things created, did in fact get created Illinois would have full employment…

  8. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    Anon -

    According to Moody’s, most of those job losses have been due to the elimination of government jobs.

    I wonder why Team Quinn is making no effort at judo on this point.

    1. Rauner claims Illinois has lost 90,000 jobs.
    2. Not true, according to independent analysis
    3. In fact, Illinois has created nearly X thousand private sector jobs under governor Quinn, while shrinking government payrolls by X thousand.
    4. Over the next four years, Quinn s budget calls for creating X thousand more jobs.
    5. Bruce Rauner’s plan? Rauner would put more than x thousand Illinoisans out of work to provide more than half a billion in tax cuts for millionaires.

  9. - Silver Streak - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    How many jobs have been lost by downsizing, outsourcing, bankruptcy, etc., in companies owned by Rauner/GTCR? People in glass houses….

  10. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:24 am:

    Doesn’t matter at all.
    What matters is how voters feel, and telling them that the data shows that they are wrong - won’t change their mind if they feel otherwise. That isn’t because voters are stupid, it is because voters have heard for years how recovery is right around a corner or “Recovery Summer” is going to be 2009, or 2010, or NO NO - Really! 2011 - and it doesn’t come. Voters are cynical towards groups claiming to have factual information that tells them they are wrong.

    Go around Illinois and Illinoisans are in a funk, or they are afraid. Telling them they have no reasons to feel the way they do - won’t win their votes. Treat voters with respect and recognize their emotions to win them over.

    Finally, we get dealt with BIG numbers in the billions and trillions. What we’ve heard bad BIG numbers. This stuff? Piffle! So when a team usually scores 100 points for several games - folks get worried when their team scores 80 - even when they win.

    So folks know something is wrong. This is Illinois. These kinds of issues resound in Illinois in a similar way that folks in Colorado would feel if it was revealed that the Rocky Mountains were suddenly shrinking. It doesn’t matter if Pikes Peak is still looking tall. What matters is when voters suddenly feel that their state and what is dear to them, seems fragile or going bad. That is when they want something to be done.

    So this stuff is useless, unless you are at the tail end of a campaign and got nothing but - “Look, this guy is a liar!” going into November.

    Fact checkers don’t matter in emotional campaigns.

  11. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:25 am:

    There have been facts out there Rauner ignores, including how “Bruce Rauner” and Bruce Rauner can’t reconcile the life led, and campaign rhetoric.

    Lemmings are going to believe the rhetoric before the facts? Rauner hopes so…

  12. - Exit 59 - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:25 am:

    When you cut education spending and higher ed spending…guess what? Jobs are lost there too.

  13. - D.P.Gumby - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:34 am:

    Since Brucie doesn’t even agree w/ himself, why is this surprising…

  14. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:36 am:

    Truth in advertising would be Rauner saying:

    “I plan to cut 90,000 union supported positions by slashing education and other state programs the first day I take office!”

  15. - Steve - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:44 am:

    - Demoralized -
    Do you get a national talking points memo in the mail every week so you know what to say?

    No, I’m not a member of the Cook County Democrat party in good standing.

  16. - Plutocrat03 - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:19 am:

    So the good news is that we are not sinking as fast as Rauner says?

    But sinking nonetheless.

  17. - Walker - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:24 am:

    Steve: neither are most of the commenters here.

  18. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:30 am:

    === But the state’s job losses may not be as large as the Rauner campaign claims ===

    Hey, this could be Quinn’s new campaign slogan!

  19. - olddog - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:50 am:

    @ Steve –

    If you want to comment on a political blog, why don’t you see if you can learn the names of the major political parties?

  20. - Bill White - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:55 am:

    The decline in public sector employment is a significant component of the overall job loss statistics.

    And it is a dangerous myth to assert that further cuts to government jobs and pay will increase private sector employment.

  21. - MrJM - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    And let’s take a look at the Baron’s preferred source of jobless numbers, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ household survey.

    In December of 2008, Rod Blagojevich’s last full month in office, there were 858,500 government employees in Illinois. In December of 2013, the last month available from the BLS, there were 831,900 government employees in Illinois.

    After demonizing public sector workers (and anyone who works with them) during the primary, does Rauner now plan to restore the 26,600 public sector jobs that account for a full 30% of his preferred employment loss total?

    While such a flip-flop from Rauner would be surprising, I guess it wouldn’t be unprecedented.

    – MrJM

  22. - Both Sides Now - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 12:41 pm:

    Is the number of people retiring from state government and other employers taken into account? Since we have an aging population, it would seem the percentage/number of people retiring each year would increase and therefore decrease the overall number of people employed.

  23. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    US may have gained 3.7m jobs over that period, but compared to the 10m population growth of working age people, it is a big net loss of jobs.

    Illinois may actually have done better than the rest of the country, given its minor population growth.

  24. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 1:12 pm:

    ==- Steve - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 9:59 am:==

    I don’t think you understand that in Texas, government jobs are about the only good jobs that are growing. Most of the private sector jobs are low-wage jobs, the kind of minimum wage jobs that cause people to go on welfare.

    “Some 550,000 workers last year were paid at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25, more than double the number making those wages in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

    Of course, have fun ignoring facts and reality while you are greeting at the new Wal-Mart making minimum wage and starving at home.

  25. - A guy... - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 1:17 pm:

    ===Illinois may actually have done better than the rest of the country, given its minor population growth.===

    We hope you’ve enjoyed your trip on Otherly World Space Airlines and enjoy your stay on Pluto.

    Wow dude. just wow.

  26. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 1:26 pm:


    Anybody that uses the term “statist” is, by definition, a troll.

    Also, its Democratic Party, not Democrat Party.

  27. - CapnCrunch - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 2:35 pm:

    “The household survey is used to calculate the unemployment rate, but the payroll data is “considered to be the more accurate employment indicator,” ……….”

    So, the unemployment rate is calculated by using the unemployment and employment household survey numbers. If neither of these numbers is “considered to be accurate” how, then, can the unemployment rate be accurate?

  28. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 2:47 pm:

    The Texas Growth Machine

    Here is some non-political facts that are new and not intended to thwart Rick Perry’s presidential campaign back in 2011.

  29. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 3:43 pm:


    I agree facts alone don’t rule the day, but facts can be used to effectively alter public perception.

    Of course, it would help if it were business leaders praising Quinn for leading efforts to create a quarter million private sector jobs, instead of Quinn praising himself.

  30. - olddog - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 4:25 pm:

    @ VanillaMan –

    City Magazine, the source of your “non-political facts,” bills itself as Rudy Giuliani’s “idea factory as the then-mayor revivified New York City.” Interesting stuff, and certainly not intended to thwart Rick Perry, but hardly non-political.

  31. - Anon. - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 4:26 pm:

    ==I agree facts alone don’t rule the day, but facts can be used to effectively alter public perception.==

    But, according to this “fact check,” the facts are that Illinois lost jobs while the nation as a whole was gaining, that Rauner’s numbers are taken from an unbiased source, and that another unbiased source which is preferred by most experts shows a smaller job loss. How is this “fact check” hurting Rauner except in the eyes of people who have already made up their minds against him?

  32. - Bill White - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 5:12 pm:

    According to this web site - recommended by Steve Schnorf - Ilinois public sector employment levels are below average for the United States

  33. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 8:07 pm:


    Because the FACT is that Illinois has created 250,000 private sector jobs since Quinn became governor.

    You don’t have to quote the fact checker…you only need one editorial board to read what the fact checker said and call Rauner’s ads misleading, then put your own number out there.

    Just ask Will Guzzardi.

    And yes, the ad talking about how many Rauner-owned companies went bankrupt, dissolved, used, prosecuted and layoffs ought to be in the works.

  34. - Steve - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 9:58 pm:

    - Precinct Captain -

    Facts are stubborn things. Texas just surpassed Illinois in household median income can’t do that with only minimum wage jobs. It’s kind of nice to not have to pay a state income tax. Lastly, you make fun of minimum wage jobs: Illinois have a hard time even creating those. There’s more factories being built in Texas than Illinois. Not everyone wants to deal with a union boss and a corrupt Illinois politician.

  35. - Labordude - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:01 pm:

    This is all part of the same Right Wing/Koch Brothers narrative that says there is some connection between state budget deficits and unemployment. I can’t find a single legitimate economist that thinks there is any connection between the two.

    The other great myth of the Right Wing is that giving rich people tax breaks creates jobs. This isn’t even logical. So a rich guy is walking around with extra money in his pocket and a light bulb goes off in his head telling him to go hire some unemployed workers with that money? what economic theory is this? I think we all know that workers get hired when demand for goods and services goes up. Plain and simple.

    Last point, I am sick to death of hearing Illinois Policy Institute drones babble on about the Wisconsin Miracle of a balanced budget and tax cuts. I can explain the Wisconsin Miracle right now. They have a progressive income tax which provides a great deal more revenue than a flat tax does. If you want to duplicate a Wisconsin style budget surplus institute a progressive tax immediately and tell Mr. Tillman to shut up.

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