O'Malley defends labor department
Gov. Martin O'Malley defended his labor department Tuesday morning after a lengthy stop at a Baltimore charter school. The agency is under fire for removing from their website a July jobs report that included a downbeat analysis of the state's recovery and replacing it with a sunnier talking points.
The governor said that a single month's worth of data was shaky ground to draw grim conclusions about the state's economy. "One month does not a trend make," O'Malley said.
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, a Republican, held a news conference Monday to blast O'Malley for politicizing the agency and Audrey Scott, the chairwoman of the state's GOP, today called on the agency's secretary to resign. The GOP released a stack of emails showing communications staffers scrambling to deal with the "fiasco."
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The state's two top elected Repbulicans, House Minority Leader Anthony O'Donnell and Senate Minority Leader Allan Kittleman, requested that AG Doug Gansler launch a probe about possible "collusion in the effort to remove the orginial post." They've also asked the General Assembly's top Democrats, Sen Prez. Mike Miller and Speaker Mike Busch, to appoint an emergency committee to investigate.
Sanchez has said that the first version of the report, titled "Maryland's Market Stalls During July" was a draft and should have never been posted. It was taken down and replaced with one that contained more positive "approved messaging." The jobs numbers, put out in August, showed that the employers created 1,600 jobs that month, the slowest growth since the Maryland employers started adding jobs in April.
State economists wrote in their original analysis that they were worried about "declining consumer confidence and spending" and "lackluster hiring at the national level." Those factors them to believe that "Maryland's economic recovery faltered" in July. The second version of the report did not include the gloomy analysis.
O'Malley said he was unaware of the flap at the time, but said he agreed in principal with the later version. "What we shouldn’t do is put opinions randomly," he said. "The numbers are what they are and economists will differ on that. Whether those economists are people inside our staff or people in academia or other places."
But, the Department of Labor this month put out new data suggesting the state anaylists' first instincts were correct. The feds revised Maryland's July numbers to show that the state actually lost 1,000 jobs that month. The situation worsened in August, when employers cut 5,700 jobs.