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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Four Years of Disappointing Jobs Reports



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Kids, you may not believe this, but there was a time in America when we didn’t all spend the first Friday of the month watching CNBC and groaning at the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report on unemployment.

Yes, today’s jobs report was a disappointment. Almost all of them for the past four years have been disappointing (yes, the economy started losing jobs in February 2008). The single best one was May 2010, when 516,000 jobs were created. The next-best month in that span was this January, with 275,000 jobs created. Only 10 of the past 48 months have seen 200,000 or more jobs created.

Monthly job creation bounced around during the Bush years (when the unemployment rate ranged between 4 and 6 percent), but there were some nice monthly pops in the mix. March 2004 saw 337,000 jobs created, April 2005 saw 360,000 jobs created, November 2005 saw 334,000 jobs created, February 2006 saw 316,000 jobs created, January 2007 saw 236,000 jobs created.

As CNN noted, “In April 1984, the economy added 363,000 jobs . . . And the Reagan recovery sustained its momentum through the election, averaging 300,000 new jobs a month from May to October.”

In the booming 1990s, with a smaller total population, the country created more than 400,000 jobs in a single month several times: 462,000 jobs in March 1994; 434,000 jobs in February 1996, 404,000 jobs in February 1999; 405,000 jobs in October 1999. The economy created an astounding 507,000 jobs in October 1997.

We know this is an economy that, under the right circumstances, can create gobs and gobs of jobs in a short period of time. Yes, policies out of Washington are only one of several factors, and troubles in Europe aren’t helping. But Americans should really be tired of an administration that always has new excuses: “This recession turned out to be a lot deeper than any of us realized,” “a string of bad luck,” “the Japanese earthquake” “an Arab Spring” “economic headwinds from Europe” “uncertainty from the debt-ceiling debate” “globalization” “automation” “ATMs,” and so on.

Secondly, how much faith should they have in Democratic ideas to spur job creation when Democrats spent much of 2009, 2010, and 2011 insisting the economy was already fixed?

Does Rep. Jim Moran (D., Va.) regret saying in June 2010, “The economy has recovered”?

Does Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner regret writing an op-ed entitled “Welcome to the Recovery” in the New York Times on August 2, 2010?

Does Ron Sims, deputy secretary of housing and urban development, regret writing on the White House blog that “this summer is sure to be a Summer of Economic Recovery” in June 2010?

Does DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz regret saying in June 2011, “I’m going to take ownership right now because we began to turn the economy around”?

They thought their policies fixed the economy. But we’re still waiting to see serious job creation. It’s time for a new approach.


Tags: Barack Obama , Unemployment Rate


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