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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Obama vs. Bush on Job Growth (June 2012 Update)

Bush vs. Obama on Jobs...  

One of my readers was trying to untangle the number of jobs lost and gained under both Bush and Obama.


He left a comment:  
OK, so from Jan 01 @ 137,778,000 people were employed.
When Bush left office in Jan 09 the number was 142,187,000. That's an increase of 4.4M under Bush.
That shows for 8 years straight jobs were being created. Now take the last 3+ years; Obama started with 142,187,000 and now currently holds a total loss of jobs @ 322K. At this rate alone we can not afford another 4 more years. 

The Difference Between Jobs and the Number of People Employed

Let's see if I can help him/her out.  First, he appears to be confusing jobs with the number of people employed.  These are two different counts, from two different sources.  The "jobs" number, which is published monthly, comes from a survey of "establishments", that is, employers reporting their payrolls.  But the number of people employed comes from a survey of people and includes agricultural workers, people who are self-employed, and a few other groups not caught in the "Establishment" survey.  There are usually about 9 million more people "employed" than there are "jobs".  Over time, these two numbers parallel each other, but in any given month, they may be quite different. 

In the numbers given above, the person is talking about "people employed" not "jobs".

Now my answer to his/her comments:  




No, jobs weren't being created for 8 straight years under Bush. Between the time Bush took office and January 2002, 2,000,000 people stopped working.
Then the number of employed people started to go up as the economy improved. About 10,900,000 more people reported themselves as working between January 2002 and November 2007. However, between November 2007 and January 2009, when Obama took office, 4,400,000 people stopped working as the economy tanked.
Now Obama took office in circumstances that were much, much worse than the circumstances that Bush inherited. The number of employed people was still growing when Bush took office, but Obama took office when employment was decreasing at a frightening rate, as I just mentioned, 4,400,000 people stopped working in a span of 14 months. Employment continued to decline as another 4,200,000 workers stopped working in the first 11 months of Obama's term, which is not surprising. The rate of job or employment loss did slow within the first 3 months of Obama's term.
Finally the number of people employed bottomed out in December 2009. Since that time, we have added (as of June 2012) 4,400,000 people working.
No reasonable person can compare Bush's 8 years with Obama's 3 1/2 years, particularly since they inherited such different economies. Digging out of the mess that Obama inherited is much more difficult than anything that Bush had to deal with employment-wise.
(Could you compare the economy that FDR inherited to the economy that Bush or Reagan inherited?)
But we can compare employment and jobs numbers under the two Presidents either from the time they took office to now, the 41st month in office, or we can compare employment and jobs numbers under the two Presidents from the time the recovery in employment started to now, which is the 32nd month of recovery in employment numbers and the 28th month of recovery in jobs numbers.
So I'll do that in a blog entry, as it is time to update the Bush/Obama comparisons.
So.. here's that blog entry with those comparisons between Bush and Obama.

Note:  The numbers stated here are for June 2012, not July 2012.  

Comparing Bush and Obama from the time they took office:
  • Number of jobs when Bush took office:                                   132,466,000
  • Number of jobs in Bush's 41st month in office (June 2004):      131,442,000
  • Jobs lost:                      1,024,000
  • Percentage decrease:     0.8%
  • Number of jobs when Obama took office:                                133,561,000
  • Number of jobs now (Obama's 41st month in office):                133,088,000
  • Jobs lost:                      473,000
  • Percentage decrease:     0.4%  
Overall jobs from time in office until 41st month:  
Advantage Obama. 


  • Number of private jobs when Bush took office:                     111,631,000
  • Number of private jobs in Bush's 41st month in office:          109,841,000
  • Jobs lost:                        1,790,000
  • Percentage decrease:      1.6%  
  • Number of private jobs when Obama took office:                 110,985,000
  • Number of jobs now (Obama's 41st month in office):           111,145,000
  • Jobs added:                    160,000  
  • Percentage increase:        0.1%
Private sector jobs from time in office until 41st month:  
Significant Advantage Obama. 

(At this time in Bush's presidency, we had 1,950,00 fewer private jobs compared to the start of Bush's presidency than we do now in Obama's presidency compared to the start of Obama's presidency.)


  • Number of people employed when Bush took office:                         137,778,000  
  • Number of people employed in Bush's 41st month in office:              139,174,000
  • Increase in Employed Persons:       1,396,000
  • Percentage increase:                      1.0%
  • Number of people employed when Obama took office:                     142,187,000 
  • Number of people employed now (Obama's 41st month in office):     142,415,000
  • Increase in Employed Persons:       228,000
  • Percentage increase:                      0.2%
People employed from time in office until 41st month:  
Advantage Bush    


Comparing Bush and Obama from the "trough"s of their respective recessions:    
  • Total number of jobs at "trough" of recession after Bush took office (August 2003) :                                                                                                              .           129,820,000
  • Total number of jobs in Bush's 28th month of job growth (Dec. 2005) :  134,814,000
  • Jobs added:                    4,994,000  
  • Percentage increase:       3.8%
  • Total number of jobs at "trough" of current recession (February 2010):  129,244,000
  • Total number of jobs now  (Obama's 28th month of job growth):            133,088,000
  • Jobs added:                    3,844,000
  • Percentage increase:        3.0%
Overall jobs from start of recovery to 28th month of recovery:  Advantage Bush. 


  • Number of private jobs at "trough" of recession after Bush took office (July 2003):  108,232,000  
  • Number of private jobs in Bush's 28th month of job growth (Nov. 2005):  112,795,000
  • Jobs added:                     4,563,000
  • Percentage Increase:        4.2%  
  • Number of private jobs at "trough" of current recession (February 2010):  106,773,000
  • Number of jobs now (Obama's 28th month of job growth):                     111,145,000
  • Jobs added:                     4,372,000  
  • Percentage increase:        4.1%  
Private sector jobs from start of recovery until 28th month of recovery:    Slight Advantage Bush.


  • Number of people employed at "trough" of recession after Bush took office (Jan 2002):  135,701,000
  • Number of people employed in Bush's 32nd month of job growth (Sept. 2004):  139,487,000
  • Increase in employed persons:     3,786,000   
  • Percentage increase:                   2.8%

  • Number of people employed at "trough" of current recession (October 2009):   138,401,000    
  • Number of people employed now (Obama's 32nd month after trough in employment): 142,415,000
  • Increase in employed persons:     4,014,000   
  • Percentage increase:                   2.9%
People employed from start of recovery until 28th month of recovery:  Slight Advantage Obama.   


In Summary...
O.K., so Bush does better than Obama in some measures of employment growth from that early period, and Obama does better than Bush in some of these measures of employment growth.  (Again, Bush did not inherit an economy that was in free fall, as did Obama.)  But how many people now pillorying Obama because of jobs numbers were out there calling Bush a "failure" due to jobs numbers in summer of 2004?  I think I know the answer to that one.... 

7 comments:

  1. This is fantastic. I have a question. What is more important, jobs or people employed? Which is more accurate in your opinion?

    On a related note, since Bush lost jobs but gained people employed (over the first 41 months according to you) does that mean that people in his economy were dropping their second job? (hopefully because they found a solid single job...?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Both the number of jobs and the number of people employed are important, which is why the monthly reports usually include the number of jobs along with the unemployment rate. (The number employed is taken from the same source as the unemployment rate.) Now, the number employed is self-reported and includes people who make a little bit of money with small mini-businesses but it also includes professionals who make a lot of money as one man bands in unincorporated small businesses.

      As the number of jobs comes from payrolls, it would seem to be more accurate, but all of these monthly numbers are based on sample surveys and are preliminary. Jobs numbers for two months are considered preliminary and are usually updated, sometimes up and sometimes down, but the overall payroll jobs numbers can be updated for up to five years after a given month.

      I think that, over time, both numbers are pretty accurate. Small self-employed enterprises are not included in payroll jobs numbers and agricultural workers are not included in payroll numbers either, so the two numbers are different and will stay that way.

      More about second jobs tomorrow.... But the number and rate of people with multiple jobs actually goes UP when the economy improves, a trend that goes back as far as I can find the stats (early 90's).

      Delete
    2. Oops.. I haven't gotten back to the discussion of second jobs yet. I'm leaving this comment to remind myself.

      Delete
  2. Also, you should mention that Bush, although he did not inherit the "freefall" economy like Obama did, he inherited an economy that was slowly recovering from another recession started during the Clinton administration. And then the WTCs were attacked - financial wallstreet, by terrorists to bring down the economy. The fact that the American economy was so quick to recover is a testimony to its resilience. The American economy can recover from almost any event - the rate of recovery depends on the government policies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, the recession of 2001 was considered to be brief and shallow. The GDP lost a total of .3%. That recession was considered to last from March 2001 until November 2001. The recession of 2007-2009 was much longer, much deeper, and much more damaging. The GDP lost 5.1%. We hadn't lost anywhere close to that much in GDP since the recession of 1945, right after WWII. We were considered to be in recession for 1 year and 6 months.

      I do mention Bush's problems in another post HERE

      Remember that job loss generally continues for a number of months after the economy has started to grow again. The recession of 2001 officially ended in November 2001, but job loss continued for another 21 months. In the steeper 2007-9 recession, job loss continued for only 8 months after the GDP turned positive.

      I'd never really looked at that comparison before. It seems like quite a testament to the value of the stimulus.

      Delete
  3. I would like to know the TOTAL number of people employed when W took office and the total number of people employed when he LEFT office. Also, the total number of jobs when Bush took office and the total number of jobs when Bush left office. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There were 132,466,000 jobs when Bush took office in January 2001.

      There were 133,561,000 jobs when Bush left office in January 2009.

      In between, the total number of jobs fell to 128,820,000 in August 2003. It rose to 138,023,000 in January 2008 and then started the steep fall.

      There were 137,778,000 people employed in January 2001 and 142,187,000 people employed in January 2009.

      In between, the number of people employed fell to 135,701,000 in January 2002. It rose to 146,595,000 people employed in November 2007.

      Delete

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