The Facts: Obama vs. Bush On Job Creation

First let’s get this out-of-the-way. Presidents are not job creators. They don’t wave a wand and poof, magically there are millions of new jobs. Presidents can set the tone for policy and they can have a major influence on congressional legislation that can lead to favorable economic conditions for job growth. But this is clearly a much more muddy process than we like to believe when we talk presidents and job creation.

So now that we’ve established presidents are not gifted with job creation fairy dust, you might then be wondering why I’m writing an article that compares President Barack Obama to President George W. Bush on job creation. The answer is simple, there’s a lot of false and misleading information out there, and even if job creation is not directly attributed to a sitting president, the reality is many Americans think it is. So a comparison of job creation between Obama and Bush is relevant if people consider the economy and job creation the most important issues of the 2012 election.

Obama Fact One: -26,372
This is the number of jobs created per month during Obama’s first term through July 2012. Negative? Yeah, that’s a really ugly number, but it includes all of 2009 which was one of several disastrous “Great Recession” years.

Let’s get a better idea for job creation during Obama’s first term by leaving out the first year, when it could be said his policies were not yet fully in place. Conservatives, stay with me here, I will give the same charity to Bush in a moment.

Obama Fact Two: 126,645
This is the number of jobs created per month during Obama’s first term, excluding the first year (2009), which was an inherited recession year with massive job losses. This is not an awesome number, but it’s still solid job growth, and as of writing this article, this average is increasing each month.

Bush Fact One: 19,771
That is the number of jobs created per month during Bush’s two terms. Definitely in positive territory, but this is not exactly what you would call robust job growth.

Bush Fact Two: 43,560
This is the number of jobs created per month during Bush’s two terms, excluding the first year (2001), which was an inherited recession year with moderate job losses.

Let’s compare Obama Fact Two to Bush Fact Two. In both cases I’ve removed a recession year from their first terms (2001 and 2009). We will assume that those first years are the previous administration’s responsibility. By removing those recession years (2001 and 2009) we can more accurately compare Obama’s policies to Bush’s policies. In other words, if the job losses in 2001 are not Bush’s fault then the job losses in 2009 are not Obama’s fault.

The result is clear, Obama’s policies have created nearly three times as many jobs per month, 126,645 vs. Bush’s 43,560. Obviously Bush has more months of data (again, excluding the first years), 84 vs. Obama’s 31 months (through July 2012), so we won’t know the final result of this comparison unless Obama wins a second term.

These are irrefutable facts. Do these numbers mean what we want them to mean depending on political leaning (conservative or liberal)? Probably not. But this election is all about the economy and job creation, and as I said earlier, regardless of whether or not presidents can directly influence job creation, people think they can. The fact that Obama has had more success in the job creation department compared to Bush should give moderate and undecided voters some pause. They should take into account Mitt Romney’s claim that Obama’s policies have failed. If presidential policy has any influence on jobs, it’s hard to look at these numbers and say Obama’s policies have failed.

I hope this gives moderate and undecided voters something to chew on until November 6th. / photo by Ethan Hein

source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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