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editorial | state job numbers

Patrick’s wishful thinking

WHEN LIFE pours cold water on your hopes, it’s usually a mark of resilience to keep your dreams alive. But not always. Take the Curious Case of the Patrick Administration and the Fickle Jobs Facts. As the nation started to pull out of the Great Recession, federal data showed that Massachusetts, when viewed in a certain favorable time frame, ranked fifth among the states in jobs creation. That was welcome news indeed to Governor Patrick and his team, who eagerly incorporated it into their official pronouncements.

Then the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised the data, and days of wine and roses turned into a bit of a beggar’s banquet. According to the reworked data, the Bay State was only 41st when it came to creating jobs in 2011.

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Whereupon a certain denial seems to have permeated the administration’s ranks. Like a bewitching first love, the darling old data kept its mesmerizing hold on administration imagination. As the Globe’s Noah Bierman reported last week, Patrick kept boasting that the Commonwealth was fifth even after the BLS revision had sent it tumbling bumpety-thumpety down to the low end of the job-creation staircase. The old data felt like a better description of reality, explained one aide - and besides, the overhauled numbers might just be revised again.

Let’s hope that the lovely old scenario returns. But until that day comes, the governor and his no-longer-quite-so-merry men owe it to the public to acknowledge the new reality. There is, after all, something bracing about the truth - no matter how much it hurts.

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