Jobs: Are Obama’s Policies “Working?”

The monthly Jobs report released March 4 offers some hope that the worst recession misery may be behind us.  Employers added 192,000 jobs in February, about double the average gain over the preceding twelve months.  The unemployment rate ticked down from 9.0% to 8.9%.   Establishment media gleefully reported “good news for the Obama White House and the 2012 campaign.”

While any improvement is welcome improvement these statistics are still very weak by historical standards. The chart tracks the results of the Bush-Obama response to a deep recession Vs the Reagan response to an even worse recession 30 years ago.The Obama strategy of maximum government intervention in the economy, government take-over of the health care sector, restrictions on energy production, massive deficits, and continuous threats of tax increases has prolonged the recession and impeded recovery in the job market.

When we published this chart last month it was criticized as “apples to oranges” by Obama supporters who claimed Reagan faced a “mild” recession.  But measured by two key indicators 1981 recession was worse:

  • In the first two quarters of the 1981 recession GDP declined by a combined 11.3%.
  • In the first two quarters of the current recession GDP declined by a combined 10.8%
  • In 1981 the unemployment rate peaked at 10.8% and remained above 10% for ten months.
  • In the current recession the Unemployment rate was above 10% for one month, when it was 10.1%

Only because Reagan’s policies were more effective in restoring lost jobs and economic growth can his critics now claim the recession he inherited was less serious than the one Obama inherited two years ago.

Friday morning Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis issued a gloating press release including:

We’ve seen private sector job growth for 12 straight months – adding 1.5 million jobs…The bottom line: The policies and programs of this administration are working.

But in the same twelve months of the Reagan recovery, when the labor force was a third smaller than it is today, the private sector created 3.7 million jobs.  Private sector Job growth after the Bush tax cuts were  enacted in mid-2003 were:

  • 2004: 1.9 million
  • 2005: 2.3 million
  • 2006: 1.9 million

Throughout those years the Democrats and the media relentlessly attacked the Bush Administration for presiding over  “a jobless recovery.”  Candidate Obama was nearly hysterical in his criticism of the Bush jobs record.

If private sector job creation continues at the same rate as over the past 12 months it will take 57 more months to climb back to the pre-recession total.  At this point in the Reagan recovery private sector jobs already exceeded the pre-recession total by nearly four million.

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