Update: Click here for the most recent jobs statistics.
I posted an article last month that compared the unemployment rate under President George W. Bush with the unemployment rate under President Obama at that time. I felt compelled to publish this article because some left-leaning sites were comparing Obama’s first two years and three months in office with Bush’s last and worst economic year (the above chart shows the most recent incarnation of this narrative).
In light of yesterday’s jobs numbers, some left-leaning blogs continue to use Bush’s last year as a foil to Obama’s two years and four months in office.
In April, the private sector added 268,000 jobs in the fourteenth consecutive month of private sector job growth. This is good news, though the media certainly seems to be portraying it far more positively than it really is. For instance, The New York Times reported that this number constituted the highest number of private sector jobs added in the last five years.
Why five years?
Because if one were to choose another round-number period such as ten years, it would be the 9th best month.
Pretty darn convenient, isn’t it?
The bad news is that the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate actually ticked up in April from a whopping 8.8% to an even worse 9.0%. This number is 1.7 percentage points worse than President Bush’s last full month in office in December 2008.
Furthermore, the unemployment rate only accounts for the percentage of the unemployed who are actively seeking employment. It does not include people who have given up on finding employment.
Both the Bush and Obama presidencies have been marked by a steady decline in the labor force participation rate. The labor force participation rate measures the number of people in the labor force as a percentage of the total working-age population.
Therefore, the unemployment situation is even worse than it appears, because it does not account for people who have been forced to exit the labor market because they can not find jobs.
Another negative data point is last week’s rise in jobless claims. According to The New York Times, jobless claims in the week ending April 30th represented an eight-month high.
Putting the Numbers into Perspective
President Bush’s overall record continues to look far better than President Obama’s to date. Over President Bush’s presidency, the private sector created a net 141,000 jobs (my last post reported 188,000, but it did not include January 2001 data). Surprisingly, this number includes the 3.78 million private sector jobs lost in 2008.
In contrast, under President Obama’s administration, the private sector has still lost a net 2.96 million private sector jobs.
Again, the point of this argument is not to assess blame on either administrations’ policy. It simply puts the left’s claims into perspective.
For every job that the private sector created under George W. Bush, the private sector eliminated ~21 jobs under Barack Obama. While the private sector job outlook has improved recently, the economy still must create 2.96 million private sector jobs to break even. Until then, it is disingenuous for the left to claim that President Obama’s economic policies are a resounding success.