July 11, 2011 4:32 pm ET
Most of the statistics Republicans use to criticize President Obama's economic record rely on the same basic distortion: They begin counting in January 2009, when President Obama was sworn in, but months before any policy of his could have any cause-and-effect relationship with economic data. In 2010, economist Robert Shapiro wrote that economic statistics through July 2009 — "the first six months of the Obama presidency, before his policies could affect the economy" — should be blamed on (or credited to) the Bush administration's influence. Using that six-month buffer, and even debiting almost 300,000 lost jobs in July 2009 against Obama's account, the private sector has grown by over one million net jobs since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act took effect. Meanwhile, despite the chronic Republican claim that all Obama has done is grow the government, the public sector has shed nearly half a million net jobs over the same period.
Since Summer 2009, The Private Sector Has Added Jobs While The Public Sector Has Shrunk. Political Correction prepared a chart based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing cumulative job gains and losses in the public and private sectors since summer 2009 (click to enlarge):
Since June 2009, The Private Sector Has Gained Over One Million Net Jobs. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, there were 107,936,000 private-sector jobs in June 2009. As of June 2011, the most recent report available, the data show that total is up to 108,953,000 — a net gain of 1,017,000 jobs in the private sector. [BLS.gov, accessed 7/10/11]
Since June 2009, The Public Sector Has Lost 480,000 Net Jobs. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, there were 22,557,000 jobs in the government sector in June 2009. As of June 2011, the most recent report available, the data show 22,064,000 government jobs — a net loss of 493,000. [BLS.gov, accessed 7/10/11]
The Economy Shed Almost Eight Million Jobs Under Republican Policies Before The Recovery Act Could Affect The Economy. According to economist Robert J. Shapiro:
From December 2007 to July 2009 - the last year of the Bush second term and the first six months of the Obama presidency, before his policies could affect the economy - private sector employment crashed from 115,574,000 jobs to 107,778,000 jobs. Employment continued to fall, however, for the next six months, reaching a low of 107,107,000 jobs in December of 2009. So, out of 8,467,000 private sector jobs lost in this dismal cycle, 7,796,000 of those jobs or 92 percent were lost on the Republicans' watch or under the sway of their policies. Some 671,000 additional jobs were lost as the stimulus and other moves by the administration kicked in, but 630,000 jobs then came back in the following six months. The tally, to date: Mr. Obama can be held accountable for the net loss of 41,000 jobs (671,000 - 630,000), while the Republicans should be held responsible for the net losses of 7,796,000 jobs. [Sonecon.com, 8/10/10, emphasis added]
Based on Shapiro's research, the Washington Post's Ezra Klein created the following chart showing net job losses before and after the Recovery Act was enacted:
[Washington Post, 8/12/10]
PolitiFact: "True" That "Most Job Losses" Happened Before Obama Policies Took Effect. According to PolitiFact's analysis of President Obama's statement that "most of the jobs that we lost were lost before the economic policies we put in place had any effect": "Looking at BLS data on seasonally adjusted non-farm employment from December 2007, when the recession officially began, to January 2009, the month before the stimulus was enacted (a 25-month period), the jobs number declined by 4.4 million. ... When [Obama] refers to his economic policies, we presume he is referring to his main economic stimulus, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It passed in February 2009, but it took several months before the impact of its spending was felt in the economy. Job loss didn't stop, but Obama is right that it slowed down. In the 19 months from February 2009 through September 2010, the month of the most recent preliminary data, the overall job decline in the private and public sectors was 2.6 million. And the number of jobs lost per month has declined from around 700,000 a month at the beginning of the administration to months in which there were small net gains. ... 'I watched the president on Stewart's show last night, and I thought his basic point about the timing of the employment losses was correct and ought to be noncontroversial,' Gary Burtless, a labor markets expert at the centrist-to-liberal Brookings Institution said in an e-mail." [PolitiFact.com, 10/27/10, emphasis added]
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