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Louisiana GDP facts: "Jindal miracle" or mirage

Written by  // Wednesday, 11 June 2014 14:39 //

oreilly jindalEvery chance he gets, whether on national TV, while campaiging for President or while sharing broiled chicken with the Chambers of Commerce,  Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal touts the Louisiana economy--as glowing and outperforming almost all competition.  Some conservative commentators have described the state's economic ascendency as the "Jindal miracle". 

For example, in a television interview earlier this year with Jim Cramer, Jindal crowed over the state’s economic growth:
GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL: Well, Jim, it's going great. First off, thank you for coming to Louisiana. We're here in Paradise, Grand Isle. In Louisiana, our economy is growing. We're doing what Washington D.C. is not doing. So, for example, more people working than ever before, higher incomes than ever before. We actually-- our economy is growing 50% faster than the national economy.(Bold emphasis ours)

Then take the Republican Governor’s Association website (an organization he has recently chaired and vice-chaired) which cites the following: “Louisiana’s state GDP has grown by $36 billion since 2008 and it’s growing at nearly twice the rate of our nation’s GDP. In fact, Louisiana’s GDP growth over the last five years ranked eighth best in the U.S. and third best in the South.” (Bold emphasis ours)

However, the federal government released economic numbers today and the Louisiana economy has a mighty-long way to go before the state and the always-absent-presidential hopeful can claim real bragging rights.  For now, and surely this year and over the past few years, the state’s growth rate year, is simply and utterly, below average.
According to the Associated Press today:

“New figures show Louisiana's economy grew by 1.3 percent in 2013, lagging neighboring states and the nation.
Gross domestic product numbers released Wednesday by the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis try to measure all of the economic output of each state.
Louisiana's 2013 growth rate was below the national average of 1.8 percent, and ranked 34th among the 50 states.
The numbers can change later - Louisiana's 2012 growth was revised up to 2.1 percent from an earlier estimate of 1.5 percent.
Federal figures show the biggest contributor to growth in Louisiana last year came from makers of nondurable goods, including oil and chemical refiners. But mining, including oil and gas extraction, was the biggest drag on the state's $254 billion economy. 

So, is Louisiana’s economy really growing as fast as the governor can talk?  What is that growth vis-a-vis other states in the nation?

When looking at the numbers, is the Governor giving us the "right poop" so we can all celebrate the administration's achievements?  Or, is he simply looking at the glass half-full?  Or, worse, is he skewing the numbers for political purposes?

After the governor’s scathing anti-Obama blast while he and the nation’s governors stood upon the White House lawn, he then appeared on Morning Joe.

Panelist Mike Barnicle asked Jindal to defend his own economic record: "The last time the Census Bureau checked the per capita income of Louisiana, you were 47th lowest in the United States, not all under your watch. What have you done, as governor, to bring in all these better paying jobs and boost your people's per capita income?"
Jindal responded, "Well, the great thing is, we're doing exactly what the president has not. Cut taxes, reform debt, make some investment in workforce training, make it easier for businesses to create jobs. And here's the record. In Louisiana, we now have more people working, highest incomes in our state's history. Larger population than ever before. And the president can't say all those things about the country. Our economy has grown 50 percent faster than the national GDP, even since the national recession."


According to Politicfact:

politifact 

Adding 2013 to the GDP chart, United States wins,   The U.S. real GDP growth slowed to 1.8 percent in 2013.  Again, Louisiana scored only 1.3 percent.

Governor Jindal took office in January 2008.  Comparing the years of Louisiana GDP growth to the United States, during this period of time, the United States averaged .86% through 2013.  Louisiana, averaged 1.84%.

Which means, during the national recession and post-Katrina recovery, the United States average in 2008 and 2009, scored -.9%.  The Louisiana GDP for those two years was a whopping 9%.  During that period, when President Obama was pushing his stimulus, his automotive and his Wall Street bailout plans, Louisiana's economy was receiving and spending the federal money of which some have called the Hurricane Katrina "bailout" money. 

Yet, from 2010 through 2013, the period in which the Katrina money began to drop and the Jindal economic development policies gained shape, the United States averaged 1.18 percent per year while Louisiana has garnered a meager .2% per year. 

Although I am not a mathematician, I can count.  In stalk numbers, the US economy has outperformed Louisiana in GNP 29.5:1 over the past three years.  In short, we are "getting skewed" with Jindal's "see how great I am" numbers.

In deriding President Obama, Governor Jindal while at the White House, said, “What I worry about is that this president and the White House seem to be waving the white flag of surrender after five years under this administration,” Jindal, a possible Republican presidential contender in 2016, told reporters Monday. “The Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy. I think we can do better than that. I think America can do do better than that.”

Perhaps Jindal is correct and we can all debate the accuracy of his sound bite. 

But, when Governor Jindal writes self-promotional presidential campaign columns in national publications, such as last week's piece in the conservative Daily Signal in which he gave President Obama and the French Francois Hollande an unsolicited lesson in economics, Bobby Jindal: An Economic Lesson for Obama and Hollande, maybe some of those high-priced editors and the Fox News commentators might want to check the numbers and the facts.  Maybe they might want to ask about the Katrina cash obtained under Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco which overwhelmingly benefited Jindal's first two years as governor.  Moreover, perhaps they might want to check the Louisiana governor's own losing streak of GDP over the past three years of his administration, a period in which his own policies have been firmly in place.  Last week, Governor Jindal wrote:

"But in Louisiana, we’ve tried to show that there is a better way—one that leads to quality jobs and robust economic growth. While Obama raised federal taxes by more than $1 trillion, we passed the largest income tax cut in state history. As a Democratic Congress rammed through trillions in new spending for Obamacare, we cut the state budget by 26 percent. And even as the EPA proposes new regulations that could decimate critical portions of our energy sector, we’ve worked to create a more predictable legal environment for energy companies in the state.

The record shows what that better way can mean for a state—the lowest unemployment rate in the South; 2 million jobs for the first time in state history; economic growth rates nearly 50 percent higher than the national average since 2008; and six straight years of migration into the state after decades of out-migration, as families are beckoned by jobs and the prospect of a brighter economic future to come home.

We still have more work to accomplish, but the achievements of the people of Louisiana the past six years have been nothing short of tremendous. Now just imagine what we could accomplish if Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi weren’t standing in the way?"--June 5, 2014, The Daily Signal

Which raises the ever-so puzzling questions that have rendered Jindal-observers thoroughly bewildered every time he faces a national camera or posts a column in one of those national publications--are any of you guys ever fact-checking before you publish this stuff or before you let him pull that wool over your eyes?  

Check the numbers.

For the record, here are more details from the Bureau of Economic Analysis:

Per Capita Personal Income

In 2013, Louisiana had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $40,689. This PCPI ranked 31st in the United States and was 91 percent of the national average, $44,543. The 2013 PCPI reflected an increase of 1.6 percent from 2012. The 2012-2013 national change was1.8 percent. In 2003, the PCPI of Louisiana was $26,334 and ranked 45th in the United States. The 2003-2013 compound annual growth rate of PCPI was 4.4 percent. The compound annual growth rate for the nation was 3.1percent.

 

 

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