O'Malley ad overstates jobs data

Claim of more work opportunities in city is disproved by state, federal statistics

August 25, 2006|By Doug Donovan | Doug Donovan,sun reporter

Mayor Martin O'Malley's latest campaign commercial promoting progress in Baltimore incorrectly uses statistics claiming the city has been "creating thousands of jobs," according to a review of state data.

This week, the campaign provided supporting information for the television commercial from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation that appears to show that 10,000 new jobs have been created in Baltimore in the past two years.

But the statistics are actually a tally of city residents who hold jobs that could be located anywhere. While 10,000 more city residents are employed today than two years ago, their jobs have not been created in Baltimore.

According to the state labor agency's official count of jobs in each jurisdiction, the city lost about 5,800 jobs between January 2003 and January 2006. Baltimore was the state's only jurisdiction to lose jobs in that time.

Federal statistics provided an even bleaker job picture. U.S. Department of Labor data show that the city has lost about 2,000 jobs between July 2004 and last month, and more than 40,000 jobs since 2000.

O'Malley campaign aides defended the jobs claim, but scrambled yesterday to produce data to support their contention.

O'Malley campaign spokesman Rick Abbruzzese said that the initial supporting data support the commercial.

"The claim we make is true," Abbruzzese said. "There are thousands more Baltimore City residents with jobs than there were just a few years ago."

The commercial, however, claims that the city is "creating thousands of jobs" -- not that it is home to thousands of more people with jobs.

Abbruzzese then pointed to federal labor statistics comparing last month with July 2005. That shows that the city has gained more than 2,000 jobs -- from 370,600 in July 2005 to 372,800 last month.

In July 2004, however, the number of jobs in the city was 374,700.

"The O'Malley campaign should invest in a calculator," said Shareese N. DeLeaver, spokeswoman for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s campaign. "Despite O'Malley's attempt to grasp at an area of accomplishment, promoting your candidacy shouldn't come at the expense of misleading Maryland citizens with the use of fuzzy math."

The commercial began airing this week in the Baltimore media market and is the O'Malley campaign's first to promote his administration's record in the city.

The 30-second spot begins with a narrator proclaiming: "People are moving back to a city that's creating thousands of jobs, reducing violent crime, and improving their schools and test scores."

O'Malley has faced questions before about his claims that violent crime in Baltimore was reduced by nearly 40 percent between 1999 and 2004. That statistic has been in dispute because of an O'Malley-commissioned audit performed in 2000 that significantly increased the violent crime rate in 1999, the benchmark against which the mayor measures progress. Compared with pre-audited figures for 1999, the decline in violent crime is closer to 24 percent.

"Since this is something you've been accused of in the past, you would think they would take painstaking caution to make sure your numbers were solid," DeLeaver said.

But Ehrlich has also been accused of misstating data.

Ehrlich and his running mate, Kristen Cox, have both incorrectly said that public school test scores are rising everywhere in Maryland except in Baltimore. Though the city has some of the lowest scores in the state, those scores have been rising.doug.donovan@baltsun.com

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