Dean Calbreath - Union-Tribune
Which of California's five recent governors had the best job growth during his tenure in office? And which had the worst?
Michael Bernick, an employment specialist affiliated with Santa Monica's Milken Institute, has come up with one method of figuring that out - and the answer has already generated a little dustup on the campaign trail.
Bernick added up the number of jobs that were added during each tenure and then compared California's growth rate to the nation's growth rate. Since California represents around 11 percent of the nation's population, any number above 11 percent means we're outpacing the rest of the country.
It's probably no great surprise that the state's worst growth came under the current governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger , which arguably had much less to do with his policies than with the state's close ties to the real estate bubble and burst.
Since Schwarzenegger was elected through a recall election in October 2003, the state has lost 561,000 jobs, even though the nation added 153,000. Even though all four of his predecessors dealt with recessions, Schwarzenegger was the only governor to come to the end of his term with fewer jobs than in the beginning (unless there's some dramatic burst in employment between now and the inauguration of the next governor).
But which governor oversaw the best comparative job growth? According to Bernick, that honor goes to Jerry Brown. The state added nearly 2 million jobs during Brown's tenure from 1975-82, representing 17.3 percent of the nation's employment growth. That's despite a devastating national downturn during his final year in office that saw unemployment spike to 11 percent nationwide and 10.8 percent in California.