States Ranked on Job-Creation Transparency

by

For Release January 29, 2014

Contact: Phil Mattera 202-232-1616 x 212

“Show Us the Subsidized Jobs” Ranks the States

Report: Nearly All States Disclose Some Development Deals, But Outcome Reporting Remains Mostly Poor

January 29, 2014—All but four states now post at least partial information online showing which companies are receiving economic development subsidies. But the quality and depth of that disclosure varies widely, both among and within states. Three-fourths of major state development programs still fail to disclose actual jobs created or workers trained, and only one in eleven discloses wages actually paid. The best disclosure practices are found in Illinois and Michigan, but even their scores would be near-failing as report card grades.

These are the key findings of Show Us the Subsidized Jobs, a report issued today by Good Jobs First, a non-profit, non-partisan research center based in Washington, DC.

“Aside from a handful of holdouts, state governments now accept the idea that the public has a right to online data about which companies are receiving taxpayer-funded job subsidies.” said Good Jobs First executive director Greg LeRoy. “But with unemployment still high, Americans need to know how many jobs and what kind of wages and benefits their taxpayer investments are generating.”

Show Us the Subsidized Jobs is the third in a series of reports Good Jobs First has produced on subsidy transparency since 2007. In that period the number of states with at least some online disclosure has doubled from 23 to 46. The District of Columbia has also embraced transparency. Over the course of the reports, Good Jobs First has raised the bar in its rating criteria, reflecting rising public expectations about government transparency and improving web technology.

“Transparency by itself is no guarantee that a subsidy program is accountable or effective,” said Good Jobs First research director Philip Mattera, principal author of the report. “But it is the foundation for any meaningful assessment.”

Show Us the Subsidized Jobs rates the reporting practices of 246 key state economic development subsidy programs on how well they disclose online information such as company-specific award amounts, job-creation and wage-rate figures, the geographic location of subsidized facilities, and details on the recipient company and the project. Programs are also evaluated in terms of how easy it is to find and use the online data. Each program is rated on a scale of 0 to 100, and the program scores for each state are then averaged to derive a state score.

The report’s key findings:

  • Forty-six states and the District of Columbia provide online recipient disclosure for at least one key subsidy program. This is up from 37 in late 2010 and 23 in 2007.
  • The states with the best average program scores are: Illinois (65), Michigan (58), North Carolina (48), Wisconsin (46), Vermont (43), Maryland (42) and Texas (40). The most-improved state is Oregon, which had no disclosure in 2010 and is now in the top ten with an average of 38.
  • The four states still lacking online disclosure are: Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho and Kansas.
  • Of the 246 programs examined, 135 of them, or 55 percent, have online recipient disclosure (up from 42 percent in 2010). The average score for the programs with disclosure is 39. Only seven programs score 75 or better. 
  • Of the 135 programs with disclosure, 101 require some degree of job reporting, but only 59 report actual jobs created or workers trained. Only 47 provide any form of wage or payroll data, and only 21 provide wage data on jobs actually created or workers trained
  • Only six states practice consistency by providing online recipient reporting for all of the key programs we examined: Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
  • States with disclosure often have major discrepancies in the quality of reporting from one program to another. In Minnesota and Virginia, for example, there is a spread of more than 50 points between their highest and lowest program scores.
  • Consistent with our previous state accountability report cards, the existence and quality of subsidy transparency follow no partisan pattern. There are “red” and “blue” states among both disclosure leaders and laggards.

“With most programs still failing to disclose actual jobs created or wages paid, taxpayers cannot even begin to weigh costs versus benefits,” LeRoy concluded. “Taxpayers have the right to know exactly what they are getting in return for their economic development investments.”

A summary of state scores and ranks can be found in the table below. Details on each state’s program scores can be found in online appendices at www.goodjobsfirst.org/showusthesubsidizedjobs.

State Subsidy Disclosure Scores By Rank and Alphabetically

 

Rank

State

Average

 

State

Average

Rank

1

Illinois

65

 

Alabama

3

44

2

Michigan

58

 

Alaska

17

26 (tie)

3

North Carolina

48

 

Arizona

14

32 (tie)

4

Wisconsin

46

 

Arkansas

0

5

Vermont

43

 

California

21

21 (tie)

6

Maryland

42

 

Colorado

19

25

7

Texas

40

 

Connecticut

33

14 (tie)

8 (tie)

New York

38

 

Delaware

0

8 (tie)

Oregon

38

 

District of Columbia

17

26 (tie)

10 (tie)

Louisiana

36

 

Florida

32

16

10 (tie)

Washington

36

 

Georgia

4

41 (tie)

12

Kentucky

35

 

Hawaii

1

45 (tie)

13

Indiana

34

 

Idaho

0

14 (tie)

Connecticut

33

 

Illinois

65

1

14 (tie)

Missouri

33

 

Indiana

34

13

16

Florida

32

 

Iowa

27

19

17

Wyoming

29

 

Kansas

0

18

Virginia

28

 

Kentucky

35

12

19

Iowa

27

 

Louisiana

36

10 (tie)

20

Pennsylvania

25

 

Maine

4

41 (tie)

21 (tie)

California

21

 

Maryland

42

6

21 (tie)

Minnesota

21

 

Massachusetts

16

29 (tie)

21 (tie)

Ohio

21

 

Michigan

58

2

24

Montana

20

 

Minnesota

21

21 (tie)

25

Colorado

19

 

Mississippi

12

34 (tie)

26 (tie)

Alaska

17

 

Missouri

33

14 (tie)

26 (tie)

District Of Columbia

17

 

Montana

20

24

26 (tie)

New Jersey

17

 

Nebraska

10

37

29 (tie)

Massachusetts

16

 

Nevada

1

45 (tie)

29 (tie)

Tennessee

16

 

New Hampshire

5

40

31

Oklahoma

15

 

New Jersey

17

26 (tie)

32 (tie)

Arizona

14

 

New Mexico

7

38

32 (tie)

Rhode Island

14

 

New York

38

8 (tie)

34 (tie)

Mississippi

12

 

North Carolina

48

3

34 (tie)

Utah

12

 

North Dakota

4

41 (tie)

36

South Dakota

11

 

Ohio

21

21 (tie)

37

Nebraska

10

 

Oklahoma

15

31

38

New Mexico

7

 

Oregon

38

8 (tie)

39

West Virginia

6

 

Pennsylvania

25

20

40

New Hampshire

5

 

Rhode Island

14

32 (tie)

41 (tie)

Georgia

4

 

South Carolina

1

45 (tie)

41 (tie)

Maine

4

 

South Dakota

11

36

41 (tie)

North Dakota

4

 

Tennessee

16

29 (tie)

44

Alabama

3

 

Texas

40

7

45 (tie)

Hawaii

1

 

Utah

12

34 (tie)

45 (tie)

Nevada

1

 

Vermont

43

5

45 (tie)

South Carolina

1

 

Virginia

28

18

Arkansas

0

 

Washington

36

10 (tie)

Delaware

0

 

West Virginia

6

39

Idaho

0

 

Wisconsin

46

4

Kansas

0

 

Wyoming

29

17

 

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