Stephanie Cutter, President Obama’s deputy campaign manager, recently boasted to Willie Geist of MSNBC that, from an employment perspective, the recovery of the economy under President Obama compares favorably with the Reagan recovery. Her claim seemed adequately outlandish to warrant comparing the two recoveries based on two criteria of central importance to the American people: the net number of new jobs created and the change in the number of people of working age who are either unemployed or not in the workforce (and therefore not counted as unemployed).
In each case I used unadjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics from the month which was the trough of the recession experienced at the beginning of each President’s term of office. Those months were January 1983 and January 2010. I then compared that data to the identical data from January of 1989 and July of this year. The results are as follows.
The Reagan recovery, encompassing a period of 72 months, resulted in the creation of 24,833,000 net new jobs, or approximately 344,900 jobs per month. Over that same period the total number of people of working age who were either unemployed or not in the workforce decreased by 5,234,000, or approximately 72,700 per month.
The Obama recovery, encompassing a period of 31 months, has resulted in the creation of 6,317,000 net new jobs, or approximately 203,800 jobs per month. Over that same period, the total number of people of working age who are either unemployed or not in the labor force increased by 205,000, or approximately 6,600 per month. In tabular form, the comparison is as follows:
Net New Jobs Per Month
Change in Number of Workers Unemployed or Not in Work Force Per Month
These differences between the Reagan recovery and the Obama economy take on added significance when you realize that the size of the working-age population increased by approximately 43,180,000 people from January 1983 to January 2010. When that factor is considered, President Reagan’s recovery created 0.0031 net new jobs per month per working-age person. By contrast, President Obama’s “recovery” has created only 0.0013 net new jobs per month per working age person. In other words, when it comes to job-creation, President Reagan was more than twice as effective as President Obama — and President Obama’s policies have been so counterproductive that, during a recovery, they have actually resulted in an increase in the number of Americans who are either unemployed or simply no longer in the work force.
These figures demonstrate the truth of what those of us who were in the workforce during both recoveries intuitively understand. We knew President Reagan, President Reagan was our friend, and Barack Obama is no Ronald Reagan.