Correcting Mitt Romney's Mistaken Jobs Chart

September 07, 2011 4:47 pm ET

Mitt Romney's jobs plan features a brazenly dishonest chart comparing job gains following recessions. "Figure 2" from page 16 of the proposal claims that in the 24 months after the recent recession officially ended, the American economy has shed 800,000 jobs. The figure labels this the "Obama Recovery," and the way the chart is arranged suggests Obama is to blame for the massive job losses that occurred under President Bush. Subliminal sloppiness aside, though, the number is flat wrong. The recession ended in June 2009, and in the subsequent 24 months the economy has gained 554,000 jobs on net. That would still stack up poorly next to some other 24-month recoveries from less severe recessions, but that's not because the private sector isn't creating jobs; it's because a half-million public-sector layoffs over the same two years hide the one million new private-sector jobs that have actually been created in the "Obama Recovery."

Romney's "Figure 2" Is Misleading

Romney: "Since The End Of The Great Recession, Jobs Have Continued To Disappear" According To The BLS. From page 16 of Mitt Romney's "Believe In America" jobs plan:

["Believe In America," p. 16, accessed 9/7/11]

NEBR: Recent Recession Ended In June 2009. From Reuters: "The recession ended in June 2009, making it the longest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the National Bureau of Economic Research said on Monday. The NBER, considered the arbiter of U.S. recessions, said its declaration did not mean the economy had 'returned to operating at normal capacity' and cautioned that economic activity sometimes remains below normal well into expansion." [Reuters, 9/20/10]

  • Congressional Research Service: "NBER Is The Generally Accepted Arbiter Of Business Cycle Turning Points." From the Congressional Research Service: "Among economists, the NBER is the generally accepted arbiter of business cycle turning points. The NBER is a private nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that was founded in 1920. In the beginning its focus was on the macroeconomy, business cycles, and long-term growth, but now it seeks to promote research on a wide variety of topics. For many years, the NBER itself determined the dates of swings in the business cycle. In 1978, however, a separate business cycle dating committee was formed. The members of the committee are appointed by the president of the NBER, and they are now responsible for determining the dates of the beginnings and ends of recessions." [CRS Report # RS22793, 1/23/08, via AU.AF.MIL, internal citations removed for clarity]

BLS: In 24 Months Since June 2009, Total Payroll Employment Is Up 554,000. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 130,493,000 total nonfarm payroll jobs in America in June of 2009. In June of 2011, 24 months later, there were 131,047,000 total nonfarm payroll jobs, an increase of 554,000. [BLS.gov, accessed 9/7/11]

Romney Knows The Recession Ended In June 2009, But Still Claims Jobs Have Been Lost In Two Years Since

Romney's "Figure 1" Acknowledges June 2009 As End Of Recent Recession. From page 12 of Mitt Romney's "Believe In America" jobs plan:

["Believe In America," p. 12, accessed 9/7/11, emphasis added]

Romney: "In The Two Years After The End Of The Recession In 2009, The Economy Has Actually Shed Additional Jobs." From page 17 of Mitt Romney's "Believe In America" jobs plan: "Post-recession periods of the past have been marked by dramatic increases in employment. In the two years following the 1973-75 recession, more than four million full-time jobs were added.  The two years after the 1981 recession saw more than seven million new jobs. Even the relatively shallow recessions of 1990-91 and 2001 were each followed by significant job growth. President Obama's recovery, by contrast, never even started. In the two years after the end of the recession in 2009, the economy has actually shed additional jobs." ["Believe In America," p. 17, accessed 9/7/11]

Here's What An Honest Version Of Mitt Romney's Chart Would Look Like

Political Correction prepared two revised versions of Romney's "Figure 2," each of which seeks to show what Romney's chart claims to show: the job losses from start to end of a given recession, and the job gains over the 24 months that followed the end of each downturn. The second graphic includes the private-sector job growth in the first 24 months following each recession.

NBER: Recent Recession Lasted From December 2007 To June 2009. From the National Bureau of Economic Research: "The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research met yesterday by conference call. At its meeting, the committee determined that a trough in business activity occurred in the U.S. economy in June 2009. The trough marks the end of the recession that began in December 2007 and the beginning of an expansion." [NBER.org, 9/20/10]

  • BLS: 554,000 Net Jobs Added From June 2009 To June 2011. [BLS.gov, accessed 9/7/11]
  • BLS: 1,061,000 Private-Sector Jobs Added From June 2009 To June 2011. [BLS.gov, accessed 9/7/11]
  • BLS: Public Sector Shed 507,000 Jobs From June 2009 To June 2011. [BLS.gov, accessed 9/7/11]

NBER: 2001 Recession Lasted From March To November Of That Year. From the National Bureau of Economic Research: "The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research met yesterday. At its meeting, the committee determined that a trough in business activity occurred in the U.S. economy in November 2001. The trough marks the end of the recession that began in March 2001 and the beginning of an expansion." [NBER.org, 7/17/03]

  • BLS: 755,000 More Jobs Lost From November 2001 To November 2003. [BLS.gov, accessed 9/7/11]
  • BLS: 964,000 More Private-Sector Job Losses From November 2001 To November 2003. [BLS.gov, accessed 9/7/11]

NBER: 1990-91 Recession Lasted From July 1990 To March 1991. From the National Bureau of Economic Research: "In its meeting, the committee determined that the U.S. economy reached a trough of activity in March 1991. Previously, the committee had determined that the economy reached a peak of activity in July 1990. The eight-month period between July 1990 and March 1991 is a recession in the NBER's chronology. The committee thus determined that the recession ended in March 1991 and that an expansion began at that time." [NBER.org, 12/22/92]

  • BLS: 1,381,000 Jobs Added From March 1991 To March 1993. [BLS.gov, accessed 9/7/11]
  • BLS: 962,000 Private-Sector Jobs Added From March 1991 To March 1993. [BLS.gov, accessed 9/7/11]

NBER: 1981-82 Recession Lasted From July 1981 To November 1982. From the National Bureau of Economic Research: "The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research met yesterday in Cambridge and identified November 1982 as the trough of the recession that had begun in the United States in July 1981. The trough signifies both the end of a recession and the beginning of a recovery or business expansion." [NBER.org, 7/8/83]

  • BLS: 7,190,000 Jobs Added From November 1982 To November 1984. [BLS.gov, accessed 9/7/11]
  • BLS: 6,856,000 Private-Sector Jobs Added From November 1982 To November 1984. [BLS.gov, accessed 9/7/11]

NBER: 1973-75 Recession Lasted From November 1973 To March 1975. From the National Bureau of Economic Research: "The peak in business activity preceding the recession of 1973-1975 came in November 1973. The trough marking the end of the recession came in March 1975." [NBER.org, October 1977]

  • BLS: 4,742,000 Jobs Added From March 1975 To March 1977. [BLS.gov, accessed 9/7/11]
  • BLS: 4,446,000 Private-Sector Jobs Added From March 1975 To March 1977. [BLS.gov, accessed 9/7/11]
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