On April 1, I Tweeted the following statement, and it was not a joke:
More jobs created under Obama in 2 years than were created in eight under Bush.
When I made the initial statement last Friday, some silly person (by the tone of the messages, I suspect this was a male, but I could be wrong) who claimed expertise on the subject because his anonymous handle included the word “math” immediately jumped on it and threw up some numbers of his own. Here’s his reply:
137M employed when Bush took office, 142M when he left. We're now at 139M. Where's your math?
He kept on me, even after I explained that it was pretty much impossible to cite “my math” in 140 characters or less. Seriously, some folks think they can “prove” their statements simply by declaring them true in less than 140 characters. He claims he was getting his numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and his simplistic answer was actually stunning. His claim of 142 million employed? He got that from the January 2009 report, which indeed lists the total number of employed individuals as 142 million.I give him a little credit for at least blaming Bush for January. Many folks basically use the December number as the cutoff.
But he’s looking at the wrong number, anyway. The number to look at is “non-farm payroll.” That is the number the BLS uses. When they claim the economy grew by 216,000 jobs in March, they’re using non-farm payroll numbers, not the total number of employed.
But regardless of which numbers he cites, he’s still wrong, because he doesn't understand what I said. The first mistake he makes is his false assumption regarding time. I said “in 2 years,” not “since January 20, 2009.” I also don’t use BLS raw (easy) numbers as my sole source, because they don't tell the whole story. But just for the hell of it, let’s start off with BLS numbers. I refuse to cite numbers beginning with February 2001 and ending with February 2009, though, because presidents aren’t magicians. They don’t take office and immediately influence job creation. I think a more accurate measure is to use fiscal years, especially since the stimulus, passed by Democrats with ZERO Republican support, didn’t become law until April 1, 2009, and nothing but the tax cuts actually took effect then, anyway. The first stimulus money started being distributed in June. But since I’m being fair, I’m not going to give Bush credit/blame for the first months of his administration, either. I was going to use the beginning of each fiscal year as a comparison, but then I realized that October 2001 was right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which might be unfair to Bush. We’re not talking about his incompetence with regard to security, but rather his incompetence with the economy. So, I’m going to go with July 2001. That works, because the numbers aren’t influenced by 9/11, and July 2009 is about when the stimulus money started reaching its recipients. I would also note that most economists agree that the Bush Recession ended in June 2009, so July seems like a relatively fair beginning and ending period.
In the July 2001 report, the total nonfarm payroll was 132.4 million. Eight years later, in the July 2009 report, it was 131.4 million. So, even without giving Bush credit for the rest of the fiscal year, the net loss of jobs under Bush in eight years was over 1 million, even just using raw BLS numbers. The number in the March 2011 report, which was just issued last Friday, is 130.7 million. I know what you’re thinking; it’s still a negative, right?
Wrong. First, I’ll remind you, I’m using the July numbers as a courtesy to Bush. But you can’t simply use raw BLS numbers and compare one month to another month, because it doesn’t tell the whole story. That brings up the second false assumption my critic makes. I spoke of “the number of jobs created,” not the net jobs gained. There is a difference.The fact that some folks can’t read basic English, or insist on jerking their knee when they’ve been told something they don’t believe, doesn’t make me wrong. Even using the pure raw numbers, Bush shows a net loss of 1 million, and Obama’s shows a net loss of 700,000, and that number is shrinking rapidly, and will probably be in the positive territory by early summer. So, even using the simple-minded math this guy seems to prefer, I’m still correct. But there’s more.
See, at no point in Bush’s eight years could it be said that the economy added a net of more than 4 million jobs, even using just the BLS raw numbers. At one point, at the height of the bubble economy, there were 135.3 million non-farm employees, which means in the last two years of the Bush fiasco, the economy overall LOST 5 million jobs. If I wanted to be a real prick, I could point to just private sector employment. If I did that, then the economy lost 7 million jobs during the last two years of the Bush era. In fact, though, it was the public sector jobs that Obama created and/or saved with the initial part of the stimulus package that prevented us from hurtling toward 15% unemployment, and which set the stage for a boom in private sector jobs. At the time, some local districts were looking at laying off half their teachers, as well as lots of police officers and firefighters, until the stimulus bailed them out. If you don’t think that had an overall positive effect on private sector jobs, than you must be a Right Winger. Those teachers, police and firefighters spend a lot of money in the economy. That’s why it’s just too simplistic to simply add and subtract one number from another and declare "well, that's the truth. Period."
Obama deserves credit for the jobs the stimulus created, even as the rest of the economy was shedding others. For example, according to most economists NOT hired by the Fox News Channel, the stimulus package alone was responsible for 2.5-3 million jobs. In addition to the teachers, police and firefighters who got to keep their jobs, it’s estimated that the Cash for Clunkers resulted in nearly 500,000 jobs. The fact that many of those jobs were offset by the continued loss of jobs in other areas of the economy caused by the Bush recession does not change that fact.
If I use annual figures, the only positive Bush years were 2004, 2005, 2006 and (barely) 2007. And 2006 and 2007 were only positive because he was having the Fed print money in the hope that he could hide the mortgage meltdown that actually started in late 2005 (and which I predicted on my old blog back in 2003). That means half of his Administration found the economy in the shitter. Using just numbers from FY 2010 and FY 2011 so far, Obama beats that track record by a mile, even if you subtract temporary census workers from the mix. In fact, when you remove the census workers from the mix altogether, Obama has seen 13 straight months of positive job growth; a record Bush didn’t accomplish until September 2004. Between March 2010 and March 2011, the private sector has seen its first positive annual job growth in more than four years, adding nearly 3 million jobs, all told. If Obama had continued doing the same things Bush was doing in the last year of his presidency, we would have lost 2.5-3 million jobs more than we did, and most economists estimate that the unemployment rate would have ended up north of 15%.
But Obama and the Democrats acted fast, and they stopped the bleeding. (Yes, I know; in a perfect world, the stimulus should have been larger.) He has also turned the economy into a job producer again. It’s not enough to just count the number of jobs that were created; it’s also necessary to count jobs that weren’t lost. I will grant you, the overall job numbers still look anemic, but the fact that nearly 3 million jobs have been created in the private sector over the past year alone points to major progress. Companies are making more profit than ever, and they have begun hiring again. I’m still feeling a little wary, especially with the GOP bozos who are in charge of the House, but the positive growth should start feeding itself as the employment picture catches up to the economy. And the 3 million private sector jobs created in the last year, combined with the 2.5-3 million jobs created with the stimulus package put him up near Bill Clinton in job creation territory, even though he’s just started his third year.
Once again, George Bush’s record on jobs was an overall negative, when you look at his record honestly. The effects of the Bush recession didn’t magically end on January 20, 2009. As you can see if you look at the actual numbers, job numbers bottomed out in late 2009, just as the stimulus was taking effect, and they have been showing a positive trend since. When you add in the jobs that were proven to have been created by the stimulus package, there is no doubt that Obama’s job creation numbers are better in the last two years than Bush’s were in eight years. Every job created under Bush disappeared, while the jobs created during the Obama era seem to be here to stay. He’s created new jobs and new industries that promise enormous growth in the future, so that record will get even better.
Like I said:
More jobs created under Obama in 2 years than were created in eight under Bush.