Yael T. Abouhalkah

Multimillionaire Rex Sinquefield uses wrong jobs data defending Gov. Sam Brownback in Forbes

Rex Sinquefield’s new article in Forbes defends Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback but is full of errors, undermining the St. Louis multimillionaire’s credibility.
Rex Sinquefield’s new article in Forbes defends Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback but is full of errors, undermining the St. Louis multimillionaire’s credibility. The ASSOCIATED PRESS

St. Louis multimillionaire Rex Sinquefield fully embraces Gov. Sam Brownback’s attempt to eliminate income taxes in Kansas.

Sinquefield invited Brownback to Missouri last month to tout the Kansas “miracle” after the governor’s excessive income tax cuts took effect in January 2013. However, there is no miracle in the Sunflower State, just huge budget cutbacks and other fiscal woes caused by the unsurprising drop of hundreds of millions of dollars in income tax revenue.

But Sinquefield ignores that and, in Forbes.com on Thursday, praised Brownback with an article carrying this headline: “Early results show income tax cuts making Kansas a more prosperous state.”

As it turns out, Sinquefield should have sprung for some fact checkers before turning in his sloppy contentions to Forbes.

▪  “For the first two months of the year, Kansas increased its nonfarm jobs by 9,500...”

Wrong.

The correct number is 5,400 new nonfarm jobs. The state lost 4,100 nonfarm jobs in January and gained 9,500 in February. This and information in the next few paragraphs is found in the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics report for February 2015.

▪  ... “and the private sector added 9,000 jobs for March.”

Wrong.

The March jobs numbers for Kansas and other states won’t even be released for several weeks. The 9,000 private-sector jobs (nonfarm jobs minus government jobs) were added in February.

▪  “Private-sector jobs from February 2014 to February 2015 grew by 21,200....”

Wrong.

The correct figure is 21,000. (Sinquefield was apparently looking at total nonfarm job growth.)

▪  ... “one of the most significant increases in the country.”

Wrong.

Kansas had only the 28th fastest growth of private sector jobs in that one-year period among U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Here’s the article on that fact, based on the addition of 21,000 private-sector jobs.

▪  “Kansas surpassed all neighboring states except Colorado in private job gains over the year.”

That part is correct, largely because of the incredible jump of 9,000 private jobs in February. (Without that, Kansas’ overall growth would have been barely 1.1 percent for the last 12 months.)

However, the chart printed by Sinquefield in Forbes got almost nothing correct.

Kansas was listed with a private-sector job growth rate of 1.9 percent for 2014, and that was right when measured from February 2014 to February 2015.

But Missouri was listed at being up 1.2 percent. Wrong. The Show-Me state actually gained just over 1.7 percent in private-sector jobs, barely behind Kansas.

Sinquefield’s chart listed Oklahoma’s growth at 1.5 percent. Wrong. It was up just under 1.7 percent, again right behind Kansas.

Nebraska’s employment gain was listed at 1.4 percent. Wrong. It was a bit lower, at 1.1 percent.

Colorado was listed with a jobs addition of 3.8 percent. Wrong. It was 3.7 percent.

It’s not surprising that Sinquefield wants to make Brownback’s tax cuts look as good as possible when it comes to job growth.

But it is amazing that he won’t use the correct facts while doing so, especially when some of those facts don’t support his contentions.

All of this undermines Sinquefield’s credibility when it comes to promoting Brownback and the Kansas “miracle.”

To reach editorial page columnist Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.

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