Does the President deserve reelection because the 2008-09 recession, like every previous recession in history, ended?
On the Today Show Obama Campaign Spokesperson Stephanie Cutter was asked to answer the question the Romney Campaign has been asking voters, are you better off today than you were four years ago? Ms. Cutter answered, in part:
Lets take a look at where we are today. From losing 3 million jobs in the six months before the President took office – we lost 800,000 jobs in the month the President took office – today we’ve created 4.5 million private sector jobs…by any measure the country has moved forward…
Governor O’Malley of Maryland, in his role of Obama booster answered the same question, “We are clearly better off because we’re creating jobs instead of losing them.”
But recessions, defined as two or more quarters of negative GDP growth, have always ended and periods of job loss have always resolved to eras of new job growth, no matter who was President. This administration can’t be judged a success just because, like every previous recession, this one ended. ObamaNomics should be assessed based on a comparison of the current recovery with past recoveries.
The chart above shows the most recent four recession-recovery cycles. In every previous recovery since the government began collecting jobs data from employers in 1939, job growth has resumed and the total number of jobs has surpassed the previous peak within 48 months of the beginning of the recession. No previous recession/recovery ever has gone on this long without the number of jobs surpassing the previous peak and setting a new record.
In month 55 we’re still 4.8 million jobs below the previous peak, set in January, 2008. If the 2012 rate of job growth continues it will take 31 more months to create enough jobs to equal the previous record. We’ll be in the seventh year of ObamaNomics and even then there won’t be nearly enough jobs and the unemployment rate will still be above 8% because the working age population will have grown by 18 million people, most of whom will be looking for jobs.
The question “are you better off than you were four years ago” is a bit tricky. Even individuals who may be earning higher wages or have more accumulated wealth may not be better off if their life style is threatened by a faltering economy, looming tax increases on entrepreneurs and investors and a tsunami of new regulations including a government take-over of health care.
In any event, we’ll hear a dozen convention speakers this week bellowing the only answer the Obama team can offer, that because the recession ended we’re better off.