Local elected officials are touting Livingston County’s low jobless rate, although one critic questions who should take the credit.

8th District Republican Congressman Mike Bishop issued a press release Thursday pointing out that the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives found Livingston County held the lowest unemployment rate in the state for the month of June at 2.7%. Bishop said that the county “continues to be a prime example of efficient, conservative-led government” and attributed that to local and state leadership.

The release also included responses from several local Republicans, including State Senator Joe Hune, who said the low jobless rate was the result of a conservative policy agenda, a sentiment echoed by State Representatives Lana Theis and Hank Vaupel. Board of Commissioners Chair Kate Lawrence, meanwhile, said that the county’s history of meeting challenges, particularly during recessionary times, was due to a “consistent discipline of cost containment while delivering meaningful service.”

But when asked for her thoughts on the comments, Judy Daubenmier, who heads up the Livingston County Democrats, countered that, “Livingston County's low unemployment rate has little to do with what happens within the borders of Livingston County since 70 percent of our residents commute to jobs outside the county -- to Democratically-led counties like Wayne, Washtenaw, Ingham, and Genesee. Too many of the jobs to be found here in Livingston County pay so little that they fail to meet the cost of living here. That's why we are hiring buses to bring workers from elsewhere. Democrats are proud that President Obama was able to steer the economy out of the ditch and put it on a seven-year recovery. But there is much work to be done in Livingston County regarding employment, including attracting high-wage employers so that are residents are not driving long distances every day back and forth to jobs that pay adequately, and raising the minimum wage so that existing jobs within the county pay enough to live on.”

Stu Sandler, a spokesman for Bishop’s re-election campaign, responded by saying, “"The Democrat Party's views on this is exactly why Livingston voters overwhelmingly vote Republican. The Democratic Party comments smack of Barack Obama's insult to small business that 'you didn't build it'. Job creators in Livingston did build this economy. Job creators and families appreciate the conservative fiscal policies and leadership that have led to Livingston having the lowest unemployment rate in the state. It's a wonderful fact about the Livingston community that should be celebrated, not criticized. Only the Democratic Party leadership could find fault in having the lowest unemployment rate in the state.” (JK)