Saturday, August 4, 2012

Dueling Job Charts And Old Rhetoric

I've seen this chart on both national and local blogs.

It seemed wrong especially in regards to the George W. Bush numbers. This National Journal post helped provide perspective. Jim Tankersley writes:
In January 2001, Bill Clinton’s final month in office, 132.4 million Americans were employed. Eleven years and six months later, that number has grown … all the way to 133 million. A whopping 600,000 more Americans have jobs today than at the dawn of the 21st Century.

In the meantime, more than 11 million workers have entered the labor force. The number of Americans of working age has grown by 35 million. This is what a Lost Decade looks like in the job market — what a small recession and a massive financial crisis, interrupted by historically meager job growth, has wrought on America’s workers.
If Bush II created 4.4 million jobs, why are there only 600,000 more jobs than there were in 2001? Further, Derek Thompson has another, albeit less colorful, chart that contradicts the first,.

Tankersley sums up why the charts don't point to the same conclusions and points to reasons that this election will solve nothing in one fell swoop.
Notice what’s missing? Any real discussion of why the last 12 years have been such a disaster for the U.S. job market. George W. Bush boasted the worst job-creation record of any president since the federal government started tracking monthly stats — and that was before the Great Recession wiped out all his jobs gains. The recovery under Obama has included far slower growth, in GDP and jobs, than what followed the Great Depression, the only really comparable economic period in American history to this one.
The recession can be laid at George W. Bush's feet, so if he created 4 million jobs, he also lost them. The much more important point is that no one is discussing why the past twelve years have produced so few jobs, and no one is proposing new solutions to create jobs.  Instead, both candidates rely on more of the same. Read Tankersley's whole post for concrete examples.

I'm not voting for Romney or Obama, but I realize that supporters of or opponents of each candidate may view this elections as a matter of existential urgency. These partisans on both sides need to stop with number games and charts that hide the truth.  Both sides also need to stop romanticizing past solutions from either FDR or Reagan. Neither President is returning tanned, rested, and ready. Instead, these partisans should demand that their candidate provide new solutions.


caheidelberger said...

Why are the numbers so different from chart to chart? Does the original chart give nay idea of which specific stat it uses to gets its job gain numbers?

LK said...

I'm guessing here, but I think the guess is accurate.

The Bush II numbers in the first chart come at the end of his second term. His first term created few jobs, but there was a mini-boom early in his second term.

Some of the losses in the Great Recession came after January 20, 2009. I assume Obama gets blamed for those losses even though Bush's policies were still in effect.

By the way some of the gains that Clinton claimed in year one of his first term probably should have been credited to Bush I.