This is the first story of an 11-article series leading up to the Nov. 6 presidential election that will break down the issues dominating political debates. Check back next Thursday for our segment on education.
Since 2010, 182,300 jobs have been created in Ohio. Last month, 163,000 jobs were created in the country. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney thinks he can do better.
Some experts have said that jobs and the economy is the No. 1 issue on many voters’ minds heading into the presidential election in November, and for Ohio State students embarking on post-college job searches, it’s undoubtedly a huge concern.
Steve Mangum, an OSU professor in the Department of Management and Human Resources and senior associate dean in the Fisher College of Business, said Romney and President Barack Obama agree that the economy needs to improve. The real question lies in how to do so.
“Fundamentally, where the two parties I think are the most different is not so much in what are the 345 most important areas or things that we need to pay attention to, but instead they differ how to get there,” he said.
America’s economy tanked in 2008, and in January 2009, Obama mapped out a recovery plan in his inauguration speech. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 151,000 jobs have been added each month since January of this year, which is “about the same as the average monthly gain of 153,000 in 2011.”
Michael Flannagan, communication director for OSU College Democrats, said although the economy might not be the best, there have been improvements.
“I think that nobody’s satisfied with it,” he said. “But progress has been made.”
Obama’s website lists numbers indicating that about 4.5 million jobs were added nationally through 28 consecutive months of job growth since March 2010.
Obama’s website attributes part of this growth to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was passed in February 2009 and cut taxes for small businesses and the majority of working class families, supported clean energy investments and funded law enforcement and educator jobs.
Obama also passed legislation to help rescue the auto industry, a move which his website said saved more than 1 million jobs.
In Ohio, the auto industry makes up more than 12 percent of the workforce, or more than 848,000 jobs. Since June 2009, the state has gained more than 13,000 industry-related jobs.
But according to Romney’s website, he thinks he can do better for the American people, and doesn’t come without a resume.
Romney helped found Bain Capital, a private investment firm, in 1984, and was CEO of the company until 1999, when he left to help organize the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
Some chalk Romney’s time at Bain up as proof that he will help the American economy create jobs. His campaign tallied that he helped create more than 100,000 jobs in his time at Bain. A Wall Street Journal article published in July pointed out that Romney’s campaign’s count included jobs added at successful investments such as Staples, Inc. The same article pointed to other counting methods completed by scholars that concluded tens of thousands of jobs were created.
Resumes aside, Romney has his own plan for bettering the economy, and Niraj Antani, communication director for OSU College Republicans, said Romney is making it his No. 1 priority.
“You see small businesses and large businesses alike drowning under regulations,” he said. “Taxes are also an issue … lowering taxes on small businesses will help create jobs.”
Romney’s website said he plans to reduce “taxes, spending, regulation and government programs” and relinquish power to the states.
“President Obama, bless his heart, has tried to substitute government for free people, and it has not worked, and it’ll never work,” Romney told a crowd Wednesday at an aluminum casting production company in Bettendorf, Iowa.
Mangum said Republicans think reducing regulations and using resources will create jobs and restore economic growth by “letting the market do its thing.”
Democrats, he said, would say that too little regulation or enforcement of regulation caused many of the problems in terms of the economic crisis to begin with.
“What they would say is we’ve got to be very careful. We can’t just let the market work in an unfettered way … The best way to fuel the economy is through active involvement of the government,” he said. “So there’s the chief difference.
Drew Stroemple, president of OSU College Republicans, said Romney would keep things simple. He also gave Gov. John Kasich credit for some of the job creation on a more local level.
Kasich, a Republican, is scheduled for a speaking slot at the Republican National Convention, set for Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Fla.
Rather than pointing to job growth statistics since Obama has been in office, Republicans point to the unemployment rates.
“When you have a president who’s had above an 8 percent unemployment rate since basically his first month in office … people are getting pretty sick and tired of it,” Antani said.
The lowest America’s unemployment rate has been since Obama took office in January 2009 was 7.8 percent in that month. It peaked at 10 percent in October 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ohio was ranked as the 19th lowest unemployment rate in July at 7.2 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Mangum said he thinks both candidates realize one way to better the economy is through improved education.
Mangum said there’s no better time to invest in education than when people are young, but because of the job market, students need to “think long and hard about what your major is and what your skills are and how marketable they are.”
He said that despite the fear of an unstable job market after graduation, attending college is not something that should be foregone.
“Individuals on average that have a college education have significantly better average lifetime earnings,” he said. “We know that high quality education pays off relative to lower quality education, so I think that what that says to students is you’re doing the right thing by pursuing higher education.”
Obama was at Capital University in Bexley Tuesday and spoke to a crowd of roughly 3,300 about the work he’s been doing with student loans and the importance of a higher education toward finding jobs in the students’ chosen field.
“Businesses are mobile in the 21st century,” Obama said. “They’re gonna create jobs wherever they can find the most skilled workers, and I don’t want them to have to look any further than right here in Columbus, right here in Ohio.”
There are many different roads to recovery that could be chosen, and whether it’s Obama or Romney doing the choosing, Mangum said the reality is that it’s going to be a painful road.
“The only way to make things better is to tighten down the hatches and you have to spend less than you take in,” he said. “But no president is going to get elected by saying there’s going to be pain in order for things to get better.”
Kristen Mitchell contributed to this article.