Mostly True
Wasserman Schultz
"When we had a conservative Republican president we were losing 750,000 jobs a month."  

Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Sunday, October 11th, 2015 in comments on "State of the Union"

Wasserman Schultz: Under 'conservative Republican president we were losing 750,000 jobs a month'

Debbie Wasserman Schultz on "State of the Union." (Screengrab)

It’s been nearly eight years since George W. Bush was president, but Democrats still plan to run against him. Certainly, that’s what Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz promised on the eve of the first Democratic presidential debate.

"There are so many people who are focused on making sure we can look at the fact that, when we had a conservative Republican president, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month," Wasserman Schultz said on CNN’s State of the Union Oct. 11, 2015. "We’ve come through that -- 67 straight months of job growth in the private sector. People are no longer losing their homes. That’s the contrast we’ll talk about."

The DNC press office told us that Wasserman Schultz was thinking of President George W. Bush, and that the time period she had in mind were the last few months of his presidency, November through January. President Barack Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009, so it’s reasonable to count that month as part of the Bush legacy.

We pulled up the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers and Wasserman Schultz is on solid ground.

Month

Jobs (000’s)

Loss

Nov

135,469

-765

Dec

134,773

-696

Jan

133,977

-796

Average

 

-752

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics Benchmark comparison

The number is particularly high because Wasserman Schultz chose the three worst months of the Bush presidency. If she had chosen a longer period, say the last full year, the losses would have averaged about 365,000 per month. The losses would shrink even more if you look at longer period of time.

Wasserman Schultz didn’t mention that the economy continued to shed jobs at or above the 700,000 mark for the first two months of Obama’s presidency before the trend began to ease. This chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics  gives a more complete jobs picture.

The Great Recession saw employment declines of historic proportions. Government analysts compared the relative losses from 2007 to 2009 to past downturns. The bottom purple line on their chart tracks jobs in the Great Recession which officially began December 2007.

BLS recessions.gif

Of course, Wasserman Schultz’s statement implies that conservative Republican policies alone brought about a massive loss of jobs and the reality is more complicated. Some analysts believe that a portion of the blame goes back to policies that enjoyed Democratic support, including changes in financial regulation passed during the Clinton administration. But Wasserman Schultz did not make that claim specifically.

Our ruling

Wasserman Schultz said that under a conservative Republican president the country was losing 750,000 jobs a month. Wasserman Schultz was speaking of President George W. Bush and at the end of his term, the monthly job losses averaged about 750,000 jobs.

The average would of course be less if she had included Bush’s final 12 months -- or a period longer than that. There is an element of cherry-picking here, but the overall point holds up.

We rate the claim Mostly True.

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