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Julián Castro did not run home to Texas after delivering the keynote at the Democratic National Convention. Rather, the San Antonio mayor stumped for President Barack Obama in the battleground state of Virginia and made another national TV appearance.
On the Sept. 9, 2012, edition of NBC’s "Meet the Press," host David Gregory asked Castro if "Americans blame this president for the job situation or do they listen to President (Bill) Clinton who said nobody could have fixed it faster, not even me? I mean that seems to be -- if Americans believe that, then maybe they give him a chance."
Castro replied: "I think President Clinton did a stellar job, as usual, making the case that we see now 30 straight months of private sector job growth, 4.6 million jobs created. and I believe that folks see that kind of progress around the country. And so for (Republican presidential nominee) Mitt Romney to say, well, there's been no progress whatsoever, folks can tell the difference between what they see out there, and what he's saying."
Castro was referring to Clnton’s convention speech nominating Obama for a second term.
In the speech, Clinton repeated a talking point often used by Democrats to tout Obama’s record on job creation.
"In the last 29 months," Clinton said, "our economy has produced about 4.5 million private-sector jobs."
Afterward, PolitiFact rated Clinton’s claim as Mostly True, saying that while Clinton had cherry-picked the job numbers to paint Obama’s record in the most favorable light, his wording held up.
Castro spokesman Jaime Castillo told us the mayor used the same methodology as Clinton.
Still, he spoke a couple days after the government’s release of August employment numbers, making his counts slightly different from what Clinton aired during the convention.
In both cases, other ways of tabulating employment changes suggest less impressive growth in jobs -- even declines. By using private-sector job figures, for instance, Clinton and Castro overlook total job changes. Right off the bat, that paints Obama’s numbers favorably, since government jobs have declined during much of his term.
We consulted regional economist Cheryl Abbot of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics who said that if you count from the start of Obama’s term in January 2009 through August 2012, private-sector jobs have increased by 415,000, but total jobs decreased by 261,000 due to losses of government jobs.
Since this timeframe includes the start of Obama’s term -- when the economy was in freefall and before Obama’s policies had time to take effect -- we don’t think this is the best way to measure it.
The way Clinton did it is another way to count it. He started counting from the low point of jobs in February 2010.
The latest month-to-month dip in private-sector jobs occurred between January and February 2010 when the number of those kinds of jobs dropped by 27,000 to nearly 107 million jobs. Over the 30 months from February 2010 through August 2012, private-sector jobs increased by a little more than 4.6 million, totaling 111.4 million of late.
However, starting the count at the low point is a bit of cherry-picking. If you instead start at the official end of the recession in June 2009, private-sector jobs increased by nearly 3.5 million. That’s well below Clinton’s 4.5 million figure and Castro’s 4.6 million figure.
Finally, as we’ve written previously, presidents are not the only factor in job creation. The national, and world, economies are too big for any one person to control. So crediting Obama’s policies is at best partially correct because there are so many other factors -- such as policies of the Federal Reserve, the willingness of banks to lend money, and global business trends -- that play a role.
By most measures, the number of jobs in the United States has increased on Obama’s watch, though Castro did some cherry-picking in coming up with the 4.6 million number. Still, his statement reflects private-sector job gains since the last month with a loss in that category.
We rate the claim as Mostly True.
Truth-O-Meter article, "Bill Clinton says 4.5 million jobs have been created under Barack Obama," Sept. 6, 2012
Telephone interview, Cheryl Abbot, regional economist, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dallas, Sept. 10, 2012
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