One of County Executive Isiah Leggett’s challengers is disputing claims of Montgomery job growth Leggett is making in his campaign for re-election.
Leggett has sent out a mailer claiming the county grew by 32,000 jobs between 2010 and 2013. Former county executive Douglas M. Duncan claims jobs are actually leaving the county, the citing Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Leggett and Duncan, as well as county Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg are facing off in the June 24 Democratic primary.
County spokesman Patrick Lacefield said the number comes from a private firm, EMSI, which the county contracts with for jobs figures.
“Montgomery County leads the state of Maryland in job loss, having shed 11,000 since last July,” Duncan campaign manager Kurt Staiger wrote in an email.
However, employment and jobs data are not the same things, BLS spokesman Gary Steinberg said.
Employment data is collected using the Census Bureau’s monthly survey of 60,000 households and reflects the number of people in a county who are employed or unemployed.
Jobs data is collected monthly from about 440,000 non-farm business establishments and shows the number of jobs in a region. But as Steinberg pointed out the jobs data is not broken down by county.
The only county-specific measure of jobs produced by the BLS is its Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages where all businesses in all industries provide detailed jobs data. Given the volume of data processed, Steinberg said the latest report shows numbers from September 2013.
“For someone that doesn’t know BLS data, the difference between the household survey, showing people and the establishment survey, showing jobs, is probably too fine of a detail for someone looking at this quickly,” he said.
While Duncan claims Montgomery leads the state in job loss, sources provided by Staiger show he is actually citing a decline in the number of county residents who are employed, not jobs located in the county.
And while Leggett claims the county gained 32,000 jobs in three years, the number is nearly impossible to vet using federal data, due to how it is collected and what jobs are counted, which could differ between the private and government data.
The closest comparison are jobs numbers from the Quarterly Census. Year over year in September, for the same three year period between 2010 and 2013, federal data shows the county grew by only about 7,000 jobs, but year over year in January the county was up more than 12,000 jobs, according to the data.
Maureen O’Connor, spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation, said state data shows a growth in the quarterly average number of jobs in Montgomery County of 14,129 from the third quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2013.