Rick Perry’s jobs metric

Rick Perry’s presidential campaign launched its first television ad campaign this week, spending about $230,000 to have this spot run in Iowa over the next week.

For those who can’t watch videos online, Perry tells viewers, “As president I’ll create at least 2-and-a-half million new jobs, and I know something about that. In Texas we’ve created over 1 million new jobs while the rest of the nation lost over 2 million. I’ll start by opening America’s oil and gas fields. I’ll eliminate President Obama’s regulations that hurt other sources of domestic energy, like coal and natural gas. That’ll create jobs and reduce our reliance on oil from countries that hate America.”

As a factual matter, there’s quite a bit wrong with Perry’s pitch, but there’s one part of this that stood out for me: the Texas governor is vowing to create at least 2.5 million jobs. The number appears on screen in the ad; it’s apparently intended to seem impressive.

What an interesting metric for success.

In fact, if Perry believes voters should be impressed with his vow to create 2.5 million jobs, the Texas governor should probably be more impressed with President Obama’s jobs record.

Let’s consider the jobs data. Over the last year and a half, as the economic recovery has slowly progressed, the economy has added 2.56 million private-sector jobs. Over that same period — March 2010 through September 2011 — the overall economy has added 2.1 million jobs, and should reach the 2.5 million mark by early next year.

Now, no one is saying these totals are good enough. Indeed, given the job losses in 2008 and 2009, generated by a Great Recession that began in 2007, they’re not even close to what’s needed. The fact that the private sector has added 2.56 million jobs over the last year and a half hasn’t been nearly sufficient to bring the unemployment rate down in a hurry or end the jobs crisis.

But for the purposes of evaluating the Texas governor’s first campaign ad, the bottom line is nevertheless interesting — Rick Perry believes he’ll able to create the same number of jobs in four years that Barack Obama has created in a year and a half.