Meg Whitman and the California Business Exodus Lie

This report from KQED Capitol Notes caught our attention yesterday.

“The annual net employment change in California due to relocation — a loss of about 9,000 jobs — represents only 0.05% of California’s 18 million jobs.”

And with that, new data today from the Public Policy Institute of California again calls into question political claims that a mass exodus of businesses from the Golden State is underway, a claim we examined last week as part of our coverage of the race for governor.

The new look at whether businesses are moving jobs out of state, and how many are doing so, will no doubt fail to end the heated debate about the issue. Even so, today’s PPIC report fails to find much hard evidence for a growing trend.

Whitman continues to mention the company by name on the campaign trail, doing so again two days ago at a stop here in Sacramento. “You watched Northrop Grumman move its corporate headquarters to northern Virginia,” she said. (Note: this time, she clarified that it was the company’s HQ that left, and not — as she’s done in the past — that the entire company left.)

“Jobs are leaving for neighboring states,” she said. “I want to be the governor that stops that exodus.”

And yet, based on the PPIC report, such comments are reflective of anecdotal evidence, not substantive research. Here’s the report’s conclusion on the real factor(s) behind job creation and loss in California.

And in what may be one of the more intriguing findings, analyst Jed Kolko says the data shows that several other states across the nation have a much larger percentage of job loss that can be attributed to companies moving out of state. Tops on the list: the District of Columbia, where 6.9% of jobs from 1992-2006 were lost due to an exodus, followed by Delaware (4.5%) and New Jersey (3.9%). Compare that to California’s record over the same 14 year period: 1.7%.

So Meg, what ‘Business Exodus’ are you talking about exactly?

  1 comment for “Meg Whitman and the California Business Exodus Lie

  1. Tony Lusich
    September 23, 2010 at 11:42 am


    It would be interesting to see Jed’s evaluation of other time periods. Would he have put data in a spreadsheet & tried to come up with the answer he wanted? Why did the analysis only go through 2006? As we all know, the downturn in the economy started after that when more onerous regulations have been imposed.

    There wouldn’t be any extra wooden noses floating around would there?

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