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September 24, 2010

Jobs report, obtained by GOP, predicted problems

*** Updated to reflect new details about how GOP obtained the report. See end of post.

"Maryland's Market Stalls During July" was the header on a jobs analysis posted to the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation web site last month. The Maryland Republican Party seized on the pessimistically worded document to call Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley to task at a time when he was touting uninterrupted months of jobs growth.

But the analysis was quickly removed from the labor department's web site -- even before the Maryland GOP had a chance to take a screen shot of it. Yesterday, the party obtained a copy, resurrecting the issue just as a new jobs report shows that, indeed, July was a bad month for jobs. And August was even worse.

When it was taken down last month, the "missing report" was replaced by a more upbeat summary. The numbers in the two web documents were identical, Labor Secretary Alexander Sanchez told The Sun at the time. Only the accompanying rhetoric changed.

Sanchez said the original report, prepared by an agency data analyst, was "completely internal" and not meant for public consumption. It was replaced with the correct version, he said.

Republicans have a different take on why the report was removed.

"It’s now clear the government knew Maryland’s economy had faltered in July yet despite being caught red-handed; they deliberately withheld the information to benefit O’Malley’s reelection bid," GOP Chairwoman Audrey Scott said in a statement.

The initial analysis resurfaces at an uncomfortable time: Although the U.S Labor Department initially believed that Maryland experienced a small growth in jobs in July, it has revised its figures to show that the state actually lost a net of 1,000 jobs that month. Maryland employers shed another 5,700 jobs last month, according to that same U.S. Labor Department report.

Those new numbers underline the point that perhaps the state should have stuck with the glass-half-empty version of the analysis. From it:

"Job growth, although slowing, has proceeded without interruption over the last five months ... Growth, however, has been uneven and we can expect, in the months ahead, to face an uphill struggle in trying to regain the jobs lost during the downturn and to return to the peak employment level of February 2008."

The Sun examined how this week's jobs report forces a change in tone in the governor's race.

From the story:

As he opened a meeting of the state's spending panel on Wednesday, Gov. Martin O'Malley struck a somber tone. The day before, the state had released a report showing that Maryland had lost jobs for two months in a row.

"None of us can give up," he said. "There are better days coming."

It was a notable contrast to O'Malley's demeanor just a month ago, when he led a group of local officials gathered in Ocean City in a gleeful cheerleading chant: "Repeat after me. Five months. In a row. Of positive. Job growth."

The Democratic governor and his opponent this fall, Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., both have said the economy is the single most important issue of the campaign. For months, O'Malley has trumpeted the state's monthly jobs gains in an attempt to temper voter anger about the national recession.

But the news this week that the state suffered two months of job losses after four months of growth means O'Malley must adopt a more muted approach when discussing the economy.

"There's no question the jobs report is going to have an impact on the campaign," said Todd Eberly, acting director of the Center for the Study of Democracy at St. Mary's College.

 *** New details. In late August, the Maryland GOP filed an open-records request for the July jobs report removed from the state labor department web site. On Monday, GOP officials put out a release saying they hadn't received the report from the agency.

A friend of the GOP forwarded the report to the party Thursday afternoon, around 2 p.m., according to GOP spokesman Ryan Mahoney. The party released a statement at 4 p.m. Two hours later, the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation sent the GOP the report via email, according to Mahoney and an O'Malley administration spokesman.

The administration spokesman contends that the GOP should have obtained the jobs report via mail a day earlier.

The headline of this blog post has been updated to reflect these new details.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 7:13 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: jobs, jobs, jobs


The Baltimore Sun ALSO ran a positive job growth story last month. Nice to see that The Sun and Gov. O'Malley are both on the same lying page. Why didn't the Sun or one of the TV news organizations demand a copy of this report? Just pathetic, utterly pathetic. And The Sun will most likely endorse this man. Unbelievable.

NO WAY in the world the Obama regime would work with the boy gov regime to scrub un helpful info.

The Obama regime is the most transparent and honest in history isn't it?

Maryland's high tax burden is chasing away both potential employers and perspective retirees.
The tax and spend ways of Annapolis is slowly destroying this state.

This is just a blog post and not a story?!?! A state government agency yanked a public document from their website that predicted the jobs downturn--and then it came true. Hello, can we say coverup?! This is ridiculous and show's just how corrupt governance has got under O'Malley. I am absolutely appalled the Sun is not doing a front page story on this. I will check dutifully on Saturday and Sunday's edition for the reporting of this coverup.

I've got news for you all. The employment numbers get revised EVERY MONTH. There is an initial report, then a second one for that month that comes out a month later, incorporating data that weren't available for the first release, and a third (and final) report for that month, a month later. Then there is a benchmark revision that occurs in March of the following year.

See? No cover up. These revisions are STANDARD PROCEDURE. jobs data under Ehrlich were revised in the same manner.

As for the "spin" around the numbers, that's up to the people who write the reports to write them in whatever manner they choose. The data speak for themselves anyway.

By the way, no one at DLLR "predicted" a jobs downturn. The e-mails are simple speculation.

@ComicsHero: Positive? Here's the top and a link to the story. Judge for yourself.

"Mass layoffs spiked in July as Maryland job growth continued to slow, a sign that the sputtering national economy is hitting home."

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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