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FACT CHECK: Romney and Perry don't tell the whole story when jousting over jobs in GOP debate
WASHINGTON (AP) ' When Mitt Romney and Rick Perry thumped their chests over their job-creation records as governor during the Republican presidential debate Wednesday night, they left the bad parts out.
Yes, employment has grown by more than 1 million since Perry took office in Texas. But a lot of those jobs are not well paid.
True, unemployment dropped to 4.7 percent when Romney was Massachusetts governor. But the state's employment growth was among the nation's worst.
A look at some of the claims in the debate, and how they compare with the facts:
PERRY: "Ninety-five percent of all the jobs that we've created have been above minimum wage."
THE FACTS: To support the claim, the Perry campaign provided federal statistics for December 2010 showing only 5.3 percent of all jobs in Texas pay the minimum wage.
But those figures represent all workers, not just the new jobs, for which data in unavailable. And that does not account for low-wage jobs that may be above the minimum wage. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, 51 percent of all Texas workers make less than $33,000 a year. Only 30 percent make more than $50,000 a year. Nationally, Texas ranked 34th in median household income from 2007 to 2009.
About 9.5 percent of Texas hourly workers, excluding those who are paid salaries, earn the minimum wage or less, tying Mississippi for the highest percentage in the nation.
ROMNEY: "At the end of four years, we had our unemployment rate down to 4.7 percent. That's a record I think the president would like to see. As a matter of fact, we created more jobs in Massachusetts than this president has created in the entire country."
THE FACTS: To be sure, 4.7 percent unemployment would be a welcome figure nationally. But Romney started from a much better position than President Barack Obama did. Unemployment was only 5.6 percent when Romney took office in 2003, meaning it came down by less than 1 percentage point when he left office in 2007. Obama inherited a national unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.
PERRY: "Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt."
ROMNEY: "Well, as a matter of fact, George Bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did, governor."
PERRY: "That's not correct."
ROMNEY: "Yes, that is correct."
THE FACTS: Romney was correct.
Romney accurately stated that George W. Bush ' even without his predecessor ' saw jobs grow at a faster rate during his 1994-2000 years as governor than Perry has during his 11 years governing Texas. Employment grew by about 1.32 million during Bush's six years in office. Employment during Perry's years has grown about 1.2 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As for Perry's claim about Romney's record and that of Dukakis, he was at least in the ballpark.
Democratic Gov. Dukakis saw Massachusetts employment grow by 500,000 jobs during his two divided terms, 1975 to 1979, and 1983 to 1991, a rate of more than 41,000 jobs a year.
Romney, governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, saw employment grow from 3.23 million to 3.29 million, growth of about 60,000 jobs, or a rate of 15,000 a year. That's not quite three times faster than Romney's job-creation record.
Associated Press writers Chris Tomlinson in Austin, Texas, and Steve Peoples in Exeter, N.H., contributed to this report.