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Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is using employment figures to make a bold comparison between Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
"On the pace that we're on with job creation in the last four months -- if we continue on that pace -- all the leading economists say it is likely that we will -- we will have created more jobs in this year than in the entire Bush Presidency," Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Weston, said on FOX News.
The comment has continued to spread across the Internet since she spoke back on May 26, 2010.
Karl Rove posted a message on Twitter on June 9, 2010, highlighting Wasserman Schultz's quote as "the new Democratic claim about job creation."
So we wanted to see how it stacks up.
The claim, in this case, is pretty straightforward: President Obama is on pace to create more jobs in 2010 than President Bush did in his eight years of office. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is the government agency that keeps the official tally.
It posts monthly employment figures, and labor statistics reports are the ones cited in news accounts detailing job growth, job losses and unemployment numbers.
Wasserman Schultz's comments came in May, when the BLS had released job employment totals from January through April. Since then, May figures also have been released. In those five months, 982,000 new jobs have been added to the U.S. economy -- or nearly 196,000 new jobs a month.
If that growth holds -- and obviously that's an if -- the economy will have added a total of 2.356 million jobs in 2010 (Multiplying 196,400 by 12).
That's twice the total job growth during Bush's eight years in office, which were marked by two recessions and generally dismal job growth. Total employment increased just slightly from January 2001 to January 2009 -- by 1.08 million, according to the BLS.
So Wasserman Schultz is accurate. In fact, Obama is on a pace to create twice as many jobs in 2010 as Bush did in eight years.
But that doesn't mean it's a meaningful statistic.
Take, for example, some other accurate statistics we can create using the same figures.
- If job growth continues on pace in 2010, employment still will have decreased by 1.6 million jobs since Obama took office in 2009.
- While Obama is on a pace to add 2.356 million jobs in 2010, Bush created 2.36 million jobs in 2005 (a specific year to year comparison).
- And from April 2003 to June 2007, while Bush was president, the U.S. economy added almost 7.9 million jobs.
All true. And all in seeming contradiction to Wasserman Schultz's claim.
Because we cherry-picked numbers to make our point.
Just like she did.
We asked two economists to examine Wasserman Schultz's claim -- Dean Baker with the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research and Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institute. Neither was particularly impressed.
"Strictly speaking, Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s claim is credible," Burtless said. "Whether it is a meaningful or useful assessment is another question."
Added Baker: "This is a silly but true statement." Later, he called the comparison Wasserman Schultz was attempting to make "dubious," but literally accurate.
None of that factors in that more than 400,000 of the new jobs are temporary jobs created to complete the 2010 U.S. Census.
Wasserman Schultz gets her numbers right in saying that the U.S. in 2010 is on a pace to add more jobs to the economy than during the eight years George W. Bush was president. But the comparison is misleading because it ignores the job losses in 2009, and compares one year to eight. In fact, you can take the same statistics and reach an entirely different point. Not that we recommend that. We rate Wasserman Schultz's statement Half True.
FOX News, "Lawmakers Seek Solution for Jobless Situation," May 26, 2010
Twitter, Karl Rove, June 9, 2010
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Total nonfarm employee data, 2001-present
E-mail interview with Dean Baker, economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, June 17, 2010
E-mail interview with Gary Burtless, economist with the Brookings Institution, June 17, 2010
PolitiFact, Congresswoman says Democratic presidents create more private-sector jobs, Jan. 25, 2010
KeithHennessey.com, "The New Democratic Claim About Job Creation," June 8, 2010
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