Thursday, September 08, 2011

Employment, Unemployment

One of my best friends, economist John Hagens (also a former Republican council member for the borough of West Chester, PA) sent me this handy chart and short article today about Presidents Bush and Obama's performances over their first two years in office. Since "Jobs, JOBS, JOBS!" is much in the news right now, I pass it on for your review:

... Pundits are evenly divided over whether or not we have entered another recession, but pundits almost never get the future right. What we do know is that 14 million people were defined as unemployed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in August 2011. Millions more have stopped looking for work or have taken part time instead of full time positions. As the months go by, we digest the economic news and wonder when matters will brighten. It is sometimes forgotten that just ten years ago, before the boom-boom years of the housing market, but also as the nation recovered from the shock of 9/11, the U.S. jobs machine was sputtering. The attached diagram compares the unemployment record during the first 31 months in office for Presidents Bush (red line) and Obama (blue line) ...

President Bush entered office In January 2001 with 6 million people unemployed, steadily rising first rapidly then more slowly to almost 9 million people by August of 2003. During this mild recession period the unemployment rate rose from 4.2% to 6.1% as 2.9 million people became unemployed. President Obama began his term when the economy was in freefall as the collapse of the financial market in 2008 took its toll. The number unemployed was already a staggering 12 million in January 2009 and continued to rise rapidly before peaking at 15.6 million in October of 2009. In total 3.6 million jobs were lost during the first 10 months of Obama’s presidency. Since then, the number unemployed has dropped, in fits and starts, by 1.5 million.

Determining the right policies to battle unemployment are debated endlessly, likely without resolution. Is a shortage of demand for goods and services the problem and will another round of fiscal expansion get employment growing again? Or is it uncertainty and excessive regulation and taxation that are holding back businesses from hiring more people? Or has the U.S. economy undergone a structural change, with the jobs lost unlikely to return as our workers are replaced by less costly foreign workers? What seems true is that the U.S. economy has recently taken a very long time to heal after a downturn and that finger pointing and holding to strident policy positions aren’t productive in getting people back to work. Deploying policies that address all three questions seems most productive.

-- John Hagens | Managing Director | International Planning & Research (IPR)

We'll get to see over the next several months and years how America manages its recovery. But this is a pretty good representation of what's happened in the recent past.


Anonymous said...

don't forget the contributions of the massive middle class tax increases under shrub, and the lack of honesty over how to pay for the unnecessary war in Iraq in ruining the economy.

Mission accomplished.

No, America does NOT miss shrub.

Anonymous said...

Of course it grew during that time period with Bush; he jumped in and opened up the war with Iraq spending billions and billions of dollars on weapons and the military. I'd like to see a chart for growth/decline of the military during those time periods along with the companies benefiting from war(including the number of people they hired).

Anonymous said...

The last comment doesn't make sense, and seems to say that more people were employed under Bush because they were going into the military, and more businesses were busy (and hiring) because of income from war spending. If that were true, then unemployment in Bush's first two years would have gone down. The numbers in the chart are for people looking for jobs. People who went into the military wouldn't show up as unemployed.

Steven said...

"...seems to say that more people were employed under Bush because they were going into the military, and more businesses were busy (and hiring) because of income from war spending."

No, that's not what it says, Mr. Debating Society. It means that certain segments of the economy were favored at the expense of the general economy, not to mention the deficit. "Military" means more than just soldiers. Look at the weapons industry, private contractors, etc. W not only started two wars without paying for them, but cut taxes twice, which was not only irresponsible, but unprecedented in the history of the United States.

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