Unemployment and Employment under Clinton, Bush, and Obama

HUGE thanks and Hat Tip to Chrissy the Hyphenated! Her post is here.

People hear the unemployment rate in the news, but:

1) They aren’t usually given the longer-term perspective, and that the WORST month under Bush was better than the BEST month under Obama!

2) They usually think that Obama “inherited” a bad economy on January 20, 2009, when the truth is that the Democratic majority in Washington, D.C. (which included then-Senators Obama, Biden, and Clinton) inherited a GOOD economy on January 3, 2007.

But even these reported “unemployment” numbers are deceptive, because while the population age 16 and over has grown every month, the reported percentage of the population that is considered “in the workforce” has been steadily declining ever since Obama became pResident:

Series Id: LNS11300000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title: (Seas) Labor Force Participation Rate
Labor force status: Civilian labor force participation rate
Type of data: Percent or rate
Age: 16 years and over
http://data.bls.gov/generated_files/graphics/latest_numbers_LNS11300000_2003_2012_all_period_M07_data.gif

That makes the unemployment number appear to be improving:

http://data.bls.gov/generated_files/graphics/latest_numbers_LNS14000000_2003_2012_all_period_M07_data.gif

When the reality is that employment, relative to population, has been essentially flatline for the last three years:

Series Id: LNS12300000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title: (Seas) Employment-Population Ratio
Labor force status: Employment-population ratio
Type of data: Percent or rate
Age: 16 years and over
http://data.bls.gov/generated_files/graphics/latest_numbers_LNS12300000_2003_2012_all_period_M07_data.gif

The Employment-population ratio does not allow the “fudge factor” of who is, and is not, considered to be “in the workforce”… it’s just a simple ratio of total employed divided by total civilian noninstitutional population (and is, in my opinion, a more honest and straightforward metric).

And here is that metric over the terms of Clinton, Bush, and Obama:

http://data.bls.gov/generated_files/graphics/latest_numbers_LNS12300000_1993_2012_all_period_M07_data.gif

For perspective, allow me to repeat Chrissy’s graphic from above, and then show the Employment-population ratio at the same scale:

         

Democrats inherited a GOOD economy on January 3, 2007.
Democrats drove the economy into the ditch.
Employent, as a percentage of the civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and above, has been essentially flatline for the last three years. There has been NO recovery at all in the Employment-population ratio. In fact, in July, it got worse.

————————

UPDATE: And remember, in order to win control of both Houses of Congress in the November 2006 elections…

Democrats promised “fiscal discipline”.

Democrats promised “’Pay As You Go’ budget discipline”.

Democrats promised “no more deficit spending”.

Democrats LIED.

————————

UPDATE: And January 2013 was another below-average month, at 58.6%:

Employment-Population Ratio and Averages, January 1995 - January 2013

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14 Responses to Unemployment and Employment under Clinton, Bush, and Obama

  1. A post here from nearly two years ago:
    Unemployment rates – Clinton v. Bush v. Obama
    Posted on September 10, 2010

  2. And here’s an update to some of the numbers shown in that post from two years ago:

    Clinton (January 1993 – December 2000)
    Mean: 5.2
    Median: 5.2
    Mode: 5.6

    Bush (January 2001 – December 2008)
    Mean: 5.3
    Median: 5.3
    Mode: 5

    Obama (January 2009 – July 2012)
    Mean: 9.1
    Median: 9.1
    Mode: 9.5

  3. New Post up:
    Employment during Republican Majorities and Democrat Majorities, 1995 – Present

  4. Tanisha says:

    You are clearly a republican full of lies! Everyone can clearly remember the economy plummeting as soon as we went to war when unemployment shot up as well as gas prices. No one believes your fake charts because we lived it. Clinton left the office in good hands and even the GOP admitted if Bush left things as is we would’ve continued to see improvement.

  5. Tanisha,

    You are clearly a republican

    Actually, I am a modern conservative, and classical liberal.

    full of lies!

    So, you think the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov) is “full of lies!”?

    My post above discusses data that comes directly from them. Follow these links, adjust the time periods (to show time ranges that match my post above), and you will see for yourself that I am telling the truth.

    Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000

    Unemployment Rate http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000

    Employment-Population Ratio http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12300000

    One of the points I make in the post above is that while the population age 16 and over has grown every month, the reported percentage of the population that is considered “in the workforce” has, with few exceptions, been steadily declining ever since Obama became pResident:

    Everyone can clearly remember the economy plummeting as soon as we went to war when unemployment shot up as well as gas prices.

    Not true. Unemployment was already going up before we went to war. We went to war after we were attacked on 9/11/2001. Unemployment had already been rising well ahead of that, not due to war, but due to the Dot Com bust.

    Unemployment in April 2008 was 3.8%, but as the Dot Com bubble burst, some people lost their jobs, and by August 2001 unemployment had risen to 4.9%. Then we were attacked on 9/11/2001, and unemployment continued to rise, hitting a high of 6.3% in June 2003. Note well that the second part of the Bush Tax Cuts were signed on May 28, 2003, and they turned the economy around… unemployment declined from that high of 6.3% down to 4.4% in December 2006… the last month that Republicans controlled the House, Senate, and Presidency.

    Once Nancy Pelosi took over the House and became Speaker, and Senators Harry Reid, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and others took over the Senate, that recovery ended and the economy took a decided turn for the worse. 2007 was the end of the recovery, and once we got into the first Democrat-majority Fiscal Year (FY 2008), unemployment began to skyrocket. In terms of unemployment, the worst full month under Bush (7.3% in December 2008) was better than the best full month under Obama (reported as 7.8% in September 2012, thanks in large part to an extreme outlier in the Household survey). The Household survey job growth for September and October claimed a combined total of 1,283,000 newly employed in just those two months, rather than the average of only 180,000 per month that we had seen over the previous 10 months. If the Household survey job growth for September and October had been average months rather than extreme outliers, there would have been only 360 thousand newly employed, not the 1.283 MILLION newly employed that was claimed, and the current unemployment rate would be 8.5%, rather than the reported 7.9%.

    No one believes your fake charts because we lived it.

    Those charts that you call “fake” come from data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov). Are you calling that data and those charts on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov) web site fake? If you are questioning the veracity of the September and October Household survey data, you might actually get me to agree with you.

    Clinton left the office in good hands and even the GOP admitted if Bush left things as is we would’ve continued to see improvement.

    You give Clinton way too much credit for what was accomplished by a Republican majority in the House and Senate. And you give Bush way too much blame for what was done by a Democrat majority in the House and Senate.

    Take a look at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2013/assets/hist01z1.xls

    That data comes straight from the Obama White House Office of Management and Budget web site.

    Compare the deficit produced by Bush and the Republican Congress in the FY 2007 budget (passed in 2006) to the deficits produced by Clinton and the Democratic Congress in the FY 1994 and FY 1995 budgets (passed in 1993 and 1994). Bush’s best year with a Republican Congress beat Clinton’s best year with a Democrat Congress.

    But I doubt that you can handle that truth.

  6. crstephens says:

    You seem to have completely left out the effects of the worst market failure since the Great Depression, and the Republican-backed policies that led up to it. You are also ignoring the fact that unemployment figures are lagging indicators, which gives the lie to your claims that it was caused by Democrats in Congress. I’ve been hearing that whine since the Reagan years, and it’s no more true now than it was then. Neither party is blameless- but It’s erroneous- and totally ludicrous- to perpetuate the myth that Republicans are. Just once I would like to hear a Republican congressmember say “We screwed up-let’s try to fix it” instead of “It was Alll the Democrats’ Fault”- and then push for the same failed policies that got us to this point. Note these are all from Republicans:

    http://capitalgainsandgames.com/blog/bruce-bartlett/1168/supply-side-economics-rip
    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/reagan-insider-gop-destroyed-us-economy-2010-08-10
    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/09/why-supply-side-economics-wont-solve-the-current-economic-malaise/

  7. the Republican-backed policies that led up to it.

    Taurus Fimus!

    Republicans tried to prevent the sub-prime mortgage crisis. It was Democrats who passed the Community Reinvestment Act, Democrats who expanded it, Democrats who cooked the books at Fannie and Freddie as other Democrats pressured banks to make more and more of those high-risk loans, and Democrats who prevented Republican attempts at reform:

    You are also ignoring the fact that unemployment figures are lagging indicators, which gives the lie to your claims that it was caused by Democrats in Congress.

    Let’s look at the big picture, from January 1995 to present, for the Employment-Population Ratio:

    Employment-Population Ratio and averages, January 1995 - December 2012

    For 12 continuous years, Republicans held majority control of Washington, D.C. (they held 2+ out of 3 of the House, Senate, and Presidency). During that time, the average level of employment over 144 straight months was 63.3%, and never went below 62.0%.

    When George W. Bush took office in 2001, one could truly say that he “inherited” the economy, because he had not been a part of the Congress that helped create that economy. And what he inherited was the Dot Com bust, followed shortly thereafter by the 9/11/2001 attacks, which created an economic double whammy. Employment was decreasing in 2001, 2002, and early 2003, and it was not until the 2003 Bush Tax Cuts were signed into law that the economy turned around, employment rose, and tax revenues rose along with that rising employment. The low point of employment in 2003 was 62.0% in September 2003. By December 2006, employment was up to 63.4%. Thanks in large part to the Bush Tax Cuts, the economy grew, employment grew, and tax revenues grew. Tax revenues in FY 2007 were a whopping 44% larger than FY 2003 revenues! That was the effect of Republican-backed policies.

    Again, employment in the last month of the Republican majority was 63.4%… even after inheriting the Dot Com bust and the 9/11 attacks, Bush was able to turn the economy around and finish the Republican majority with an employment percentage that was slightly higher than the 12-year Republican majority average (which was 63.3%).

    That improvement hit an inflection point when the balance of power shifted from Republican to Democrat on January 3, 2007. Democrats raised the minimum wage 3 times, in 2007, 2008, and 2009, and while may sound good to you, the fact is that whenever the minimum wage is raised, some people who would have been employed at minimum wage previously do not end up making more, but rather end up unemployed. There is a reason why youth unemployment is higher now than it was 6 years ago. The financial crisis of 2008 of course increased unemployment (/decreased employment), but again Republicans had warned of, and tried to stop, that crisis, but Democrats thwarted attempts at reform and additional oversight.

    We’ve now had six continuous years of Democrats holding majority control of Washington, D.C.
    Average employment over those six years has been 60.0%, and we haven’t had a month above that average since February 2009.

    The average over the four years of Obama’s first term was 58.7%, and we haven’t had a month above that average since August 2009.

    One really can’t say that Obama “inherited” an economy on January 20, 2009, because he had been a Senator since January 3, 2005 and helped create that economy. When Democrats in Congress took majority control on January 3, 2007, they inherited a GOOD economy.

    But, even if one insists on saying Barack H. Obama “inherited” a bad economy from George W. Bush on January 20, 2009, that economy was a lot better than the one that Barack H. Obama “inherits” from himself today (January 20, 2013). The economy now, after Obama’s first 4 years, is worse than it was 4 years ago.

  8. the fact that unemployment figures are lagging indicators

    Employment-Population Ratio after 12 straight years (144 consecutive months) of Republican majority control (in December 2006): 63.4%

    Employment-Population Ratio after 6 straight years (72 consecutive months) of Democrat majority control (in December 2012): 58.6%

    Difference: 4.8% of population (civilian noninstitutional population age 16+)

    According to BLS HOUSEHOLD DATA HISTORICAL Table A-1, our current civilian noninstitutional population 16 years and over is 244,350,000.

    4.8% of that represents 11,728,800 missing jobs.

    After six straight years of Democrat majorities, there has been no recovery.

    If we currently enjoyed the same level of employment that we enjoyed for 12 straight years of Republican majority control, over 11.7 Million more people would be employed than are employed right now after 6 straight years of Democrat majority control.

    That’s a fact.

  9. I think it is fair to give the majority of the credit and/or blame to the political party which controlls a majority of Washinton, D.C.

    Hence, a majority of the credit that Clinton gets for the last six years of his Presidency really should be given to the Republican majority that held the House and Senate.

    And a majority of the blame that Bush gets for the last two years of his Presidency really should be given to the Democrat majority that held the House and Senate.

    But, even if you stick to looking only at who held the Presidency, here is the ranking of average Employment-Population ratio by Presidency for the last six Presidents:

    63.4% Clinton Presidency (January 1993 – December 2000)
    62.7% G.W.Bush Presidency (January 2001 – December 2008)
    62.2% G.H.W.Bush Presidency (January 1989 – December 1992)
    59.9% Reagan Presidency (January 1981 – December 1988)
    59.1% Carter Presidency (January 1977- December 1980)
    58.7% Obama Presidency (January 2009 – December 2012)

    Obama is officially worse than Carter.

  10. Each and every month of the Obama Presidency has “featured” an Employment-Population ratio that was lower than it ever was under President George W. Bush.

    The worst month under Bush was better than the best month under Obama.

  11. dr. lumpus spookytooth, phd. says:

    @author

    sir, this is some dynamite stuff you have here. Excellent citations of government foundations, gash them with their own information! I have been reflecting on the Bush presidency and the media completely savaged him. The sad truth today is that the liberal media is adept at making emotional appeals to low information voters. The photoshopped picture of a polar bear on a small piece of ice still resonates today…apparently the carbonazis don’t know polar bears can swim up to 50 miles, so basically the polar bear would have to have a mental problem to swim so far out as to drown.

  12. UPDATE: And January 2013 was another below-average month, at 58.6%:

    Employment-Population Ratio and Averages, January 1995 - January 2013

  13. UPDATE: February, March, and April 2013 were three more below-average months:
    2013_04 Employment in America - GOP vs DEM

    My new post:
    The President is not all powerful. Give Credit/Blame Where Due.

  14. May 2013 was yet another below-average month for the Employment-Population Ratio.
    The worst month under Bush was better than the best month under Obama.

    2013_05 Employment in America - GOP vs DEM

    From January 3, 1995 to January 2, 2007, Republicans controlled a majority (2+ out of 3) of the House, Senate, and Presidency.

    During those 12 straight years (144 consecutive months) from January 1995 – December 2006, the average monthly Employment-Population ratio was 63.3%.

    President Bush and the Republican majority in Congress actually ended slightly above average at 63.4% in December 2006.

    From January 3, 2007 to present, Democrats have controlled a majority (2+ out of 3) of the House, Senate, and Presidency.

    During the last nearly 6.5 years (77 consecutive months) from January 2007 – May 2013, the average monthly Employment-Population ratio has been 59.9%.

    And during Obama’s pResidency, the average monthly Employment-Population Ratio has been 58.7%, and he hasn’t had a month above his average since August 2009.

    The worst month under Bush was better than the best month under Obama.

    Last month, May 2013, was yet another below-average month, even by Obama’s low standards, as the Employment-Population Ratio was 58.6%.

    If we had the same level of Employment-Population Ratio now as we had under Bush and the Republican Congress in December 2006, well over 11.7 Million more people would be employed.

    The difference (63.4% – 58.6%) is 4.8% of our civilian non-institutional population age 16 years+.

    If we had the same Employment-Population ratio now as we had in December 2006 (after 12 continuous years of the Republicans holding 2+ of the House, Senate, and Presidency), well over 11.7 Million more people would be employed right now!

    According to table A-1, the civilian non-institutional population age 16 years+ in March 2013 was 245,363,000.

    4.8% * 245,363,000 = 11,777,424

    Over 11.7 Million people who are not employed now, but would be if we had the same Employment-Population ratio now as we had in December 2006 when Republicans last controlled the House, Senate, and Presidency!

    I repeat:
    If we had the same Employment-Population ratio now as we had in December 2006 (after 12 continuous years of the Republicans holding 2+ of the House, Senate, and Presidency), well over 11.7 Million more people would be employed right now!

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