Romney’s Economic Record in Massachusetts Isn’t What He Says

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney addresses a crowd at a campaign event in a metal working shop, in Broomall, Pennsylvania, Wednesday, April 4, 2012.

In an Iowa speech last week billed as a “major economic address,” Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney touted his economic stewardship of Massachusetts as evidence of his qualifications to take over the national recovery set in motion by President Barack Obama. “Our state moved up 20 places in job growth,” Gov. Romney said. “We worked to make our state business-friendly.”

An analysis of the private-equity-mogul-turned-politician’s economic record in Massachusetts paints a far less impressive picture. Here’s the truth about Gov. Romney’s Massachusetts leadership from 2003 through 2007, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis:

  • The Massachusetts economy grew more slowly than the rest of the country under Gov. Romney.
  • The Massachusetts economy under Gov. Romney never reached 2 percent annual growth—not even half the 4 percent growth rate he claims his current jobs plan will attain.
  • If Gov. Romney had managed to grow the state’s economy at 4 percent a year, its output would have been 10.3 percent greater at the end of his term.
  • The economic output of the Massachusetts economy would have been a full 5 percent greater if Gov. Romney had only managed to grow his state at the same rate as the rest of the country.

The graph below depicts Gov. Romney’s middling performance as chief executive of the Massachusetts economy. It’s clear why he has been more comfortable touting his leadership at Bain Capital—which at least made him and his partners rich, even though it outsourced American jobs and laid off American workers—than his term as head of state. Gov. Romney’s governorship leaves little to brag about. (see Figure 1)

For more new analysis of Gov. Romney’s economic record in Massachusetts, see economist Robert Lynch’s new Baltimore Sun op-ed about the Republican businessman’s job-creation track record in the Bay State. Lynch compares Gov. Romney’s record with that of President Obama and finds the former with a far weaker performance creating private-sector jobs, despite the president inheriting a far worse-off economy.

Christian E. Weller is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Sam Ungar is a Special Assistant on the Economic Policy team at the Action Fund.