Mutual fund manger John Hussman thinks Martin O'Malley has been a good governor and sent me an employment chart to demonstrate it. The highly rated Hussman Funds are based in Ellicott City. Hussman says he has met O'Malley at a fundraiser but has no official connection to the campaign.
His chart shows Maryland's job performance relative to that of the nation. Specifically, it shows Maryland's share of U.S. employment during the Ehrlich and O'Malley administrations. As you can see, Maryland's job share rose significantly in 2009 and 2010. Of course this is all about this state's relative insulation from the U.S. recession and prolonged slump. But I'm far less ready than Hussman to credit O'Malley -- or any governor -- with short-term economic performance.
There are too many variables outside of gubernatorial control. I believe Maryland's relatively superior performance has much to do with its large share of government and health-care jobs, which have been insulated from the worst economic pain, and about its proximity to Washington. It's hard for O'Malley to claim credit for those factors.
Any assessment of the relative economic records of Bob Ehrlich and Martin O’Malley should begin by taking those records in context of the national economy. A rising tide tends to lift all boats, and a falling tide tends to lower them. As a result, the effect of leadership is properly measured by examining how Maryland has fared relative to the rest of the United States under each governor.
Clearly, the recent downturn in the U.S. economy was caused by factors that had little to do with anything specific to Maryland - weak lending standards, mismanaged financial companies, and the collapse of a national housing bubble. There was no way for Maryland to sidestep what happened to the rest of the nation.
However, while the U.S. economy has clearly suffered a significant downturn in recent years, the Maryland economy has been much more resilient. The performance of Maryland's economy, compared with the rest of the nation, can be seen by looking at the number of jobs in Maryland as a percentage of total U.S. jobs (non-farm payroll employment). Under Bob Ehrlich, Maryland's job share fell persistently relative to the rest of the nation. In contrast, Maryland's share of the nation's jobs has increased significantly during Martin O’Malley’s term.