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Since then, the bleeding has slowed, but not stopped, with an additional 2.5 million jobs going down the drain — a fact that Mr. Perry and the GOP White House hopefuls have pounced on, chastising the administration for predicting that the $830 billion taxpayer-funded economic stimulus package that Congress passed in 2009 would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent. It currently stands at 9.2 percent.

Speaking at a Republican leadership conference in New Orleans last month, Mr. Perry said the liberal policies and regulations pushed by the Obama administration have stunted job growth, while the conservative, small-government policies adopted in Texas have generated “unmatched job creation.”

“We keep adding jobs, while others are losing them left and right,” Mr. Perry said.

Mr. Romney, meanwhile, has blamed Mr. Obama’s policies for shuttering a metal-manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania and for vacant shops at a California strip mall — though local leaders have questioned the charges.

“Instead of focusing on getting people back to work, he focused on a liberal agenda that did not work,” Mr. Romney said last week in California’s San Fernando Valley, just north of Los Angeles. “What I’d do is spend all my time getting people back to work.”

The Romney camp also has highlighted that the Bay State’s unemployment fell from 5.6 percent to 4.7 percent during his governorship, putting him on much firmer ground against the rest of the GOP field and Mr. Perry. While unemployment in Texas has jumped from 4.6 percent to 8 percent with Mr. Perry as governor, the state has added a whopping 5 million people in the past 10 years, increasing the size of the workforce and playing a role in driving up the unemployment rate.

Alan D. Viard, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy, said that job growth tends to be a better barometer of economic health than the unemployment rate. He warned, however, that trying to pin the blame or credit for a state’s jobs performance on a particular governor is an inexact art.

“The policies of governors only have a partial influence over how their economies do — especially over the short-term, which includes the typical term of a governor’s time on office,” Mr. Viard said. “A state could be doing well no matter what policies a governor is pursuing, while another state could be hit hard by just overall development in the national economy that they happen to be sensitive to, even if the governor is doing a great job.”

But he also acknowledge that in elections, politics often simplifies economic realities. “Of course, anybody who has a good economic record is going to run on that, and who can blame them?” he said.