03 August 2012

Jobs Numbers - Can the Obama Campaign Absolve Him of Year One?

In July, the American economy created 163,000 jobs. The good news is that after a quarter without a single month over 100,000, we're back into six-figures on job creation. In the last year, the economy has created 2.2 million jobs. The bad news is that the economy has still destroyed more jobs than it has created since Obama was sworn in.

If we look at the economy's performance under Obama's  compared to its performance under Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush, the average rate of monthly job creation looks like this:

avg yrs 1 thru 3+
Clinton      242
Carter       218
Nixon       102
Reagan      89
HW Bush   38
Obama       -8
GW Bush  -23

Here, Obama is stuck down with the Bushes, neither of whom won the popular vote in their re-election.

But if we discount the first year of any presidency as something inherited rather than influenced by the incumbent's policies and subtract that from the total, we get a little different picture. Here, the average job creation of 132,000 jobs puts Obama smack in the middle of the pack of recent presidents.

avg yrs 2 thru 3+
Clinton       247
Carter        175
Reagan      141
Obama      132
Nixon          84
GW Bush    30
HW Bush   -15

In this picture, Obama sets between Nixon and Reagan, two presidents who won re-election by landslides.

From this, it would seem that Obama's re-election prospects depend on how deftly his campaign can absolve him of the first year of his presidency, when the global economy was in meltdown. One step towards that narrative is in this graph from the Obama campaign, reporting "Good news: As of July, the economy has added private-sector jobs for 29 straight months—for a total of 4.5 million jobs during that period." 

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