Fact-Checking Romney’s Jobs Stats

Photograph by Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Mitt Romney, seen through a restaurant window, discusses jobs and the economy in Le Mars, Iowa.

When Mitt Romney gave his first response to the recent Democratic attacks on his record at Bain Capital yesterday, he turned to a familiar talking point: the 100,000 jobs he created as CEO of the private equity firm.

Romney was asked by blogger Ed Morrissey of HotAir.com about new attacks this week from President Obama and his allies over Bain’s role in the 2001 bankruptcy of GST Steel, which resulted in massive lay-off at the steel manufacturing plant.

The company, said Romney, was a misleading example of his 15-year tenure at Bain.

“We were able to help create over 100,000 jobs,” he said. It’s a statistic Romney has used throughout his campaign. The only problem: It’s not true.

Back in April, Bain told Bloomberg News that they do not track the jobs created or eliminated by their investments. That’s not surprising: the firm’s mission is to create wealth for their investors — not jobs.

“They’re in the business of financial engineering,” said Howard Anderson, a venture capitalist who made some early investments with Bain Capital, told Bloomberg News last summer. “They represent the investor, let’s make no bones about that.”

When pressed for how they calculated the 100,000 jobs number, the Romney campaign cited investments made by Bain in three companies: Staples (90,000 jobs), Sports Authority (15,000 jobs), and Domino’s (25,000 jobs.)

Romney added in a few more companies into the calculation in a Jan 7 primary debate sponsored ABC-News and Yahoo. ”We invested in over 100 different businesses and net-net, taking out the ones where we lost jobs and those that we added, those businesses have now added over 100,000 jobs,” he said. “There’s a steel company called Steel Dynamics in Indiana, thousands of jobs there. Bright Horizons Children’s Centers, about 15,000 jobs there. Staples alone, 90,000 employed. That’s a business that we helped start from the ground up.

None of those calculations, however, take into account the number of people laid-off at companies that failed — like GST Steel.

It’s also unclear how much credit Romney should get for creating any of the positions that were added by the firms.

Staples was the idea of entrepreneur Tom Stemberg, now a prominent public supporter of Romney’s campaign. Bain made a $2 million investment in the office supply company, according to the Boston Globe, a minuscule amount when compared to the firms other investments which frequently ran into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The investment in Dominos was made near the end of Romney’s tenure at Bain. The firm completed its acquisition of the pizza company in September 1998 – two months before Romney left Bain to go run the Winter Olympics.

But even at those investments made while Romney was at the firm, a number of people at companies bought by Bain told Bloomberg News that he had little involvement in the day-to-day operations of the companies. Rather, Romney left the oversight and daily management to his associates and executives running the businesses.

“Romney clearly was running all of Bain Capital,” said Scott Garrett, the former CEO of Dade Behring, a medical device company bought by Bain. “He wasn’t involved so much in a deal-by-deal basis.”

This isn’t the first time the Romney campaign has relied on questionable statistics to make their case.

Romney has repeatedly claimed that 92.3 percent of all the jobs lost during Obama’s administration have been lost by women. The statistic has been plastered across campaign flyers and websites, as part of an effort to woo female voters.

While technically accurate, that number isn’t correct. The campaign is counting job losses from the start of the Obama administration, a time frame that only counts the later part of the recession. Overall, more men than women have lost jobs during the entirety of the nation’s economic struggles.

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