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Thursday, April 5, 2012

How Many Jobs Were Lost Before Obama took office?

How many jobs were lost before Obama was inaugurated?  How many job losses occurred, how many jobs were lost, in 2008?

Millions.  Yes, millions of jobs were lost before Obama took the oath of office.  Continue below the picture...  

Obama's Inauguration (Doug Mills/New York Times)

4,425,000 jobs were lost before Obama took one step into the Oval Office in late January 2009.
(Updated August 11, 2013:  Numbers updated slightly based on latest jobs numbers as published by the BLS.  When this article was first written, the BLS was reporting 4,462,000 jobs were reported as lost before Obama took office.)

October 2015 # were released Nov. 6.  Details HERE.

How Many Jobs at the Peak?

The previous peak of jobs was reached in January 2008.  There were 138,056,000 non-farm payroll jobs.  (This is the count used in the monthly jobs report.) In  January 2009, just before Obama took office, there were 133,631,000 jobs.

How Many Jobs Were Lost in 2008?

From that peak of jobs in January 2008, we lost 734,000 jobs in the first half of 2008. Between June 2008 and December of 2008, we lost another 2,897,000 jobs.  That's a total of 3,631,000 jobs lost in all of 2008.  I'll repeat:  Total Jobs Lost in 2008:  3,631,000.  

At the time, we thought we had lost only 2.6 million jobs; but those estimates turned out to be low by about a million jobs.  (The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses sample surveys and estimates for its monthly numbers which are later revised as more firm data is available.  They tend to miss the turns:  When we are losing jobs, the BLS tends to underreport the job losses; when we are gaining jobs, the BLS tends to underreport the job gains.)
*All jobs numbers are taken from the BLS databases with the most recent updates; that is, the BLS table CES0000000001.

(Jobs Lost Month by Month in 2008 Listed Below.. Please keep reading!)

In January 2009, between December 12, 2008, and January 12, 2009, just a week before Obama took the oath of office, we lost another 794,000 jobs.  Therefore, a grand total of 4,425,000 jobs lost before Obama took one step into the Oval Office.   (Job numbers are based on the week containing the  12th day of the month, so all jobs lost in January 2009 go into the "lost by Bush" column.  Total non-farm payroll jobs reported for January 2009 are listed at 133,631,000 jobs )

Falling to the Bottom 

Another 2,215,000 were lost in Obama's first three months in office.  The bloodbath did slow down after that, but we still lost 2,027,000 jobs in the rest of 2009. We hit bottom in February 2010, with a loss of another 75,000 jobs in January and February.  So we lost another 4,317,000 jobs before we hit bottom in February 2010.  Most of those 4 million jobs were lost in Obama's first three months in office.  We have added private jobs every month since that bottom in February 2010.  The count of jobs at the "bottom" in February 2010 was 129,320,000.

How Many Full-Time Jobs Had Been Lost Before Obama Took Office? 1

At peak, in November 2007, 121,875,000 people were working full-time. When Obama took office, in January 2009, 115,818,000 people were working full-time.  6,057,000 full-time jobs had been lost before Obama took one step into the Oval Office.  The number of people working full-time dropped to 110,559,000 at the "trough" of the recession in December 2010, a loss of another 5.2 million full-time workers after Obama's inauguration.  Altogether, 11,316,000 full-time workers were lost during the recession.  (We have regained about 9 million of those full-time positions as of October 2014.)  

To summarize:  
  • 4,425,000 jobs lost before Obama took the oath of office.
  • Another 4,317,000 lost before we started to add jobs. 
  • That's a total of 8,779,000 jobs lost in total before the bloodbath stopped. 
  • Obama faced a job loss of about 6,700,000 jobs by the time he really could do ANYTHING, at least three months into his presidency.
  • Over 5,000,000 jobs were already lost before the ARRA Stimulus was signed in late February 2009.
Job count summary: 
  • # Jobs in January 2008  (peak of jobs):                  138,023,000
  • # Jobs in December 2008:                                       134,379,000
  • # Jobs in January 2009  (Obama's inauguration):  133,561,000
  • Jobs lost in 2008:                                                          3,644,000  
  • Jobs lost before Obama took office:                       4,462,000  
  • # Jobs in December 2009:                                       129,319,000
  • Jobs lost in 2009:                                                5,060,000
  • Jobs lost in January and February 2010:                      75,000  
  • # Jobs in February 2010 (trough):                          129,244,000
  • Jobs lost in recession (2008 through February 2010):    8,779,000
    Jobs Lost Month by Month in 2008
    • January:     +41,000
    • February:     -84,000
    • March:         -95,000
    • April:         -208,000
    • May:          -190,000 
    • June:          -208,000
    • July:           -210,000
    • August:      -274,000
    • September: -432,000 
    • October:     -489,000      
    • November:  -803,000
    • December:  -661,000
    • Total jobs lost in 2008:                3,644,000  
    Jobs Lost Month by Month in 2009
    • January:      -818,000
    • February:     -724,000
    • March:         -799,000 
    • April:          -692,000
    • May:           -361,000
    • June:          -482,000
    • July:           -339,000
    • August:       -231,000
    • September:  -199,000
    • October:      -202,000
    • November:     -42,000
    • December:   -171,000
    • Total jobs lost in 2009:             5,060,000

    We also should remember that Obama and his advisors on the transition team were working with BLS jobs numbers that did not show the true impact of the economic crisis on jobs.  The number of jobs originally reported by the BLS in December 2008 and January 2009, numbers on which the stimulus package was based, were off by over a million.  As I mentioned above, more recent data shows that we had already lost a million more jobs by the time Obama took office than we thought we did.  

    (The following was as of April 2012)

    Yes, this is a recovery!

    From Bucking Jenny's blog, also published at Addicting Info:
    It is important to actually sit down and talk about this job growth for what it is, a truthful, valid, measurable way of showing that our nation is in fact recovering, and it is a strong recovery at that. Let’s step back and look to April of 2009 when they made this same monthly report on jobs. Remember, this was just 70 days into the presidency of Barack Obama, and at that time we lost 663,000 jobs in the during the month of March alone*. In fact, it’s estimated that during the first three months of 2009, our nation hemorrhaged about 1,961,00* jobs.
    Do the math here folks. Before we had working Obama economic policy in place, the stimulus for example, we managed to lose nearly two million jobs in three months. Now that we are three years into his presidency, and we have had time to benefit from his changes in policy, we gained about 600,000 jobs over that same period of time (in three months).  Think about it this way; we aren’t just 200,000 jobs better since February 2012… we are 800,000* jobs better in March 2012 than we were in March 2009.
    *  (A few corrections to Bucking Jenny's numbers:  Actually, we lost more jobs in 2008-2009 than what was first reported. For instance, in March of 2009 we actually lost 730,000, not the 663,000 that was originally reported, which is the number Bucking Jenny uses here.   (The Bureau of Labor Statistics continues to gather data and continues to update its initial estimates for up to 5 years.)  We actually lost 2,229,000 jobs in Obama's first three months, not 1,961,000.  Again, the number of jobs reported as lost at the time was too few.)  

    I can still remember how glum everybody was in late 2008 and early 2009. It was a scary time, as I discuss at the following link:

    How was your life in January 2009?
    1The number of people working full-time or part-time comes from a separate report than the "jobs" numbers.  The "jobs" report comes from employers, and it reports how many people are on payroll and how many hours they have worked.  There is information on the "average" work week, but no direct count of how many people worked full or part time.  The Current Population Report, conducted on behalf of the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the Census Bureau, DOES determine, based on a survey of employees, how many people are working full or part time in any given month.


    1. Can you post data on part time jobs?

    2. When one is inaugurated means little, what counts is when the market believed BO was going to be elected.

      1. The number of jobs was a peak in January 2008. We were losing jobs month after month after that, and the election was still a toss up in those early days of 2008.

        In fact, Obama did not become the clear front runner until AFTER we started losing hundreds of thousands of jobs a month AFTER the collapse of Lehman Brothers in mid-September. Look it up.

    3. Actually, didn't the Bush Budget stay in place until October of 2009? If this is the case then the vast vast majority of the job losses occurred under Bush. On top of this, since 2010, the number of part time jobs relative to all jobs has fallen about 5%. It peaked in 2009 or before the ACA was introduced as so often the ACA has been blamed for the creation of part time jobs.

      1. You are quite correct on all counts. I used to also publish the number of jobs added since the first Obama budget, but people complained it was too confusing, so I went back to the two dates: As of Obama's inauguration and as of the "trough" of the recession in terms of jobs, which was February 2010 for the jobs numbers, November 2009 for the unemployment rate.

        Here's the latest, and it does show that we have FEWER part-time jobs than we did in early 2010:

        How Many Jobs Have Been Created Under Obama?


    I appreciate intelligent comments and questions, including those that are at odds with anything posted here. I have elected not to screen comments before they are published; however, any comments that are in any way insulting, caustic, or intentionally inflammatory will be deleted without notice. Spam will also be immediately deleted.