DENVER – Barely a week after firearm accessory manufacturer Magpul announced it was leaving Colorado, Governor John Hickenlooper sounded upbeat during the State of the State address, asserting that Colorado is among the top states in the union for job growth. But critics pointed to statistics showing a weakening job market in Colorado, and accused Democrats of fudging the numbers.
“In 2010, when it came to job growth, this state was ranked 40th in the nation,” said Hickenlooper. “Now, three years later, in that same ranking, Colorado is the 4th fastest job growth state in the country.”
That drew an immediate response from the conservative website Colorado Peak Politics, which posted a response on Twitter questioning the governor’s claim.
“Is that before we dropped to 10th after 2013?” Peak Tweeted.
The Tweet was was a reference to an economic analysis conducted by the Arizona State University (ASU) W.P. Carey School of Business, which ranked Colorado 10th among the states in total nonfarm employment growth in 2013. That was a drop of six notches from last year according to the study, which ranked Colorado 4th in 2012.
When government jobs were removed from the calculation, and only private sector jobs were considered, Colorado’s ranking dropped further in the ASU rankings, down to 19th.
According to the ASU website, “The W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University is one of the top-ranked and largest business schools in the United States. The school is internationally regarded for its research productivity and its distinguished faculty members, including a Nobel Prize winner. Students come from 94 countries and include more than 60 National Merit Scholars.”
Colorado has logged heavy growth in public sector employment since the economic recession began in 2008, and ranked 4th among states in post-downturn government job growth according to a 2012 analysis published by the Denver Business Journal. The analysis found that the only Washington, DC and the Beltway communities of Virginia and Maryland had added more government jobs than Colorado.
Several GOP gubernatorial candidates were also quick to question Hickenlooper’s claim, including state Sen. Greg Brophy (R-Wray), who suggested that the governor had “cherry picked data.”
“The fact is that multiple groups have our rankings for business fading,” Brophy said. “The Tax Foundation, the Small Business Entrepreneurial Council and Chief Executive Magazine all have Colorado slipping in their rankings.”
“Further, if the Governor’s billion dollar tax hike had passed, we wouldn’t just be slipping — we’d be careening down the rankings,”Brophy added.
Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, who is also seeking to oust Hickenlooper, was equally blunt.
“Apparently trying to cook the numbers is a characteristic of both the Governor and Senator Udall,” said Tancredo, a reference to recent reports that Udall pressured state officials to understate their number of Coloradans who have received insurance cancellation letters due to Obamacare.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who launched an ad Thursday critical of Hickenlooper, also weighed in.
“Earlier today, Governor Hickenlooper touted ‘job creation’ as an accomplishment. What he neglected to say was that Colorado’s unemployment rate is higher than every one of our neighboring states, minus Arizona,” said Gessler. “That’s the problem.”
“The anti-business climate that Hickenlooper has created directly benefits our neighbors. We’ve just seen it with Magpul Industries moving to Wyoming as a direct result of Hickenlooper-signed gun-grab legislation.” added Gessler. “Enough is enough!”