DES MOINES (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad downsized recent claims of job creation in the state on Friday, citing new federal jobs data.
Branstad — who during his 2010 campaign pledged to create 200,000 new jobs in five years — recently had said more than 160,000 jobs were added in Iowa since he took office. But his administration said Friday that the actual figure was 128,000.
Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said via email that the administration was simply updating its calculations using the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and that the governor never sought to mislead Iowans.
"This number was compiled with the original gross jobs numbers provided through BLS. We have since received revised numbers following the shutdown, and we want to be as accurate as possible, so the figure now stands at 128,000," Albrecht said in a statement. He did not provide the raw data or methodology used to reach the original estimate.
In a memo to Branstad's chief of staff, the director of the Iowa Workforce Development told the governor Friday that the correct number for gross job creation was 128,000. Teresa Wahlert said in the memo that jobs data can fluctuate, though she never addressed how the original figure was created.
The new, lower number still has drawn criticism because it counts only jobs added in Iowa, not jobs lost. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show the state has added 48,200 net jobs since Branstad took office in January 2011.
"I'd say they made an incredibly small baby step toward telling the truth. That's good, but it's not good enough," said Matt Sinovic, executive director of progressive advocacy group Progress Iowa, which has been critical of Branstad's job creation claims. "They're still directing a state agency to manufacture a number they know is inflated to make up for a failed job promise."
Albrecht said the new number accurately reflected job creation in Iowa.
The new federal data also show that the unemployment rate in Iowa dropped slightly in September and October. The unemployment rate for the state was 4.6 percent in October, down from 4.9 percent in August. The national unemployment rate stood at 7.3 percent in October.
But the number of overall jobs in the state dropped in October, with 1,524,100 nonfarm jobs in Iowa, about 8,300 fewer than in August. Officials said the dip may be partially attributable to the federal government shutdown.
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