Economic Recovery? Monthly Job Gains in Top 100: Reagan 12, Obama 2

Julia Seymour | July 26, 2013 | 4:52pm EDT
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President Barack Obama has once again pivoted to jobs. In his speech on July 24, 2013, he bragged that business had created 7.2 million jobs during 49 months of his recovery. That conveniently moved the starting point for his tally until after the huge job losses in 2009 and counted only the private sector. This was somewhere between his seventh and 15th "pivot" to the issue of jobs, according to Politico.

But despite the spin, it's nowhere near the results amassed during the Reagan recovery.

In his July 24 speech, Obama declared that he cares "about one thing and one thing only, and that's how to use every minute of the 1,276 days remaining in my term to make this country work for working Americans again."

Certainly Americans would be thrilled to see strong job growth again, something that has eluded the Obama administration.

If monthly job gains going back to 1946 are ranked in order of best to worst, the difference between job growth during the first four years of economic recovery under President Ronald Reagan and Obama is astounding. Total job growth during the first four years of the Obama recovery has been 4,657,000 or just 97,020 jobs per month. That's not even enough to hit the breakeven level of 150,000 jobs per month when population growth is taken into account.

Now, contrast that with the Reagan recovery. That generated a total of 11.2 million new jobs or 233,333 per month, more than enough to put people back to work. Reagan's best job month garnered the very top ranking since WWII with 1,114,000 jobs added in September 1983. A single month with more than a million jobs added. So far Obama can only wish for such a total.

Reagan nabbed an additional 11 months in the top 100 during the four years of recovery (Nov. 1982-Oct. 1986). Reagan's recovery continued after that, but the Media Research Center's Business and Media Institute didn't count seven later months in the top 100 since those occurred during Reagan's second term and Obama has not been in office as long.

Obama's tepid four-year recovery (June 2009-May 2013) ranked just twice in the top 100 months of job gains: May 2010 with 521,000 jobs added, ranked 11th, and February 2013 with 332,000 jobs added, ranking in the mid-90s. (See attached document)

Obama has painted a very different image of his jobs record in his speeches and campaign ads. In 2009, he was going to "focus like a laser" on creating jobs. By January 2010, Obama said, "we are going to have a sustained and relentless focus over the next several months on accelerating the pace of job creation, because that's priority number one." In October 2011, Obama admitted "getting our economy to grow faster and to create more jobs" was the "most urgent challenge."

A 2012 campaign ad claimed he had presided over five million new jobs. called that inflated, since he had started counting well into his term, "omitting the 4.3 million jobs that were lost in the first year of Obama's term." He was also only counting private sector jobs, so government job losses weren't included either.

As The Heritage Foundation has noted, in 2012, in his State of the Union speech, Obama tried to argue the economy was "roaring back." But as James Sherk, senior policy analyst in labor economics for Heritage wrote, "these positive numbers lack context."

In fact, Obama has been in office during the slowest recovery since World War II Sherk wrote in 2012. Things haven't changed much since then. Sherk told the MRC's Business and Media Institute, "The basic story is the same - we still haven't recovered from the job losses of the Great Recession, even four years after it officially ended. Job growth right now is decent enough - if we were already at an acceptable rate of unemployment. But we are nowhere near standard unemployment rates yet, and the current pace of job growth is not fast enough to restore full employment any time in the near future."

The starting point of economic recovery for each president was determined by the National Bureau of Economic Research. On Sept. 20, 2010, the Bureau declared that June 2009 marked the end of the recession and beginning of recovery. On July 8, 1983, NBER announced that November 1982 was the trough of the recession which "signifies both the end of the recession and the beginning of a recovery or business expansion."

Editor's Note: This column was co-authored by Mike Ciandella.

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