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By Bill Wichert September 26, 2012

Chris Christie says America has fewer jobs than when Barack Obama became president

Missouri residents will head to the polls Nov. 6 to choose between re-electing their Democratic governor or tapping his Republican challenger for the job, but New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has another name for voters to keep in mind: President Barack Obama.

At a Sept. 23 rally in the Show-Me State for Republican gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence, Christie told the crowd a vote for Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon is a vote for Obama. To make his case, the Republican governor argued that Nixon and Obama both have overseen job losses.

"Gov. Jay Nixon’s path here in Missouri is identical to the president’s path," said Christie, according to a YouTube video of his speech. "Fewer jobs in America today than when Barack Obama became president, fewer jobs in Missouri today than before Jay Nixon became governor.

"They are the same," Christie went on. "You vote for Jay Nixon, that’s a vote for President Obama. That’s not what Missourians want. You want Dave Spence as the next governor of Missouri."

But Christie is off target in attacking Obama over job losses.

Based on the most recent federal labor statistics, it’s accurate to say there are fewer jobs nationwide than there were in January 2009, when Obama was sworn in. But compared with February 2009 -- Obama’s first full month in office -- there has been a net increase of 463,000 jobs.

Christie's claim also ignores the fact that the nation has created more than 3.4 million jobs over 23 consecutive months of employment gains.

The governor’s office did not respond to two e-mails seeking comment.

Let’s break down the numbers.

Amid an ongoing recession, Obama took office in early 2009 at a time when the nation already had lost millions of jobs in the preceding year. The country continued to lose jobs each month until early 2010, when monthly job growth began to occur.

As of August 2012, the nation had seen 23 consecutive months of growth in total non-farm jobs, including both public- and private-sector employment, according to the most recent seasonally adjusted data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those gains totaled more than 3.4 million jobs.

The latest numbers show the nation had 133.3 million total jobs in August, representing the largest monthly total since January 2009, when Obama was sworn in. That figure is preliminary.

How does that figure compare to when Obama became president?

Well, compared to January 2009, there has been a net decrease of 261,000 jobs.

However, when we start counting in February 2009 -- Obama’s first full month in office -- the numbers tell a different story. Fast forward to August 2012, and we find a net increase of 463,000 jobs.

For an overview of total jobs and monthly changes between January 2009 and August 2012, check out the chart at the bottom of this page.

Still, as we’ve noted in previous stories, it’s wrong to completely credit or blame a president -- or a governor for that matter -- for job gains and losses. There are multiple factors involved beyond the control of the chief executive.

Our ruling

At a campaign rally in Missouri, Christie said there are "fewer jobs in America today than when Barack Obama became president."

If we start counting with January 2009, when Obama was sworn in, the governor’s claim is right. Between that month and August 2012, there has been a net decrease of 261,000 jobs.

But that figure is misleading. Starting with February 2009, which was Obama’s first full month in office, there has been a net increase of 463,000 jobs. Overall, the nation’s employment picture has been steadily improving with 23 consecutive months of total job growth.

Therefore, Christie’s claim "contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression." That meets our definition of Mostly False.

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Total Non-Farm Jobs, January 2009 to August 2012

Month Total Jobs Monthly Change January 2009 133,561,000   February 2009 132,837,000 -724,000 March 2009 132,038,000 -799,000 April 2009 131,346,000 -692,000 May 2009 130,985,000 -361,000 June 2009 130,503,000 -482,000 July 2009 130,164,000 -339,000 August 2009 129,933,000 -231,000 September 2009 129,734,000 -199,000 October 2009 129,532,000 -202,000 November 2009 129,490,000 -42,000 December 2009 129,319,000 -171,000 January 2010 129,279,000 -40,000 February 2010 129,244,000 -35,000 March 2010 129,433,000 189,000 April 2010 129,672,000 239,000 May 2010 130,188,000 516,000 June 2010 130,021,000 -167,000 July 2010 129,963,000 -58,000 August 2010 129,912,000 -51,000 September 2010 129,885,000 -27,000 October 2010 130,105,000 220,000 November 2010 130,226,000 121,000 December 2010 130,346,000 120,000 January 2011 130,456,000 110,000 February 2011 130,676,000 220,000 March 2011 130,922,000 246,000 April 2011 131,173,000 251,000 May 2011 131,227,000 54,000 June 2011 131,311,000 84,000 July 2011 131,407,000 96,000 August 2011 131,492,000 85,000 September 2011 131,694,000 202,000 October 2011 131,806,000 112,000 November 2011 131,963,000 157,000 December 2011 132,186,000 223,000 January 2012 132,461,000 275,000 February 2012 132,720,000 259,000 March 2012 132,863,000 143,000 April 2012 132,931,000 68,000 May 2012 133,018,000 87,000 June 2012 133,063,000 45,000 July 2012 133,204,000 (P) 141,000 (P) August 2012 133,300,000 (P) 96,000 (P)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; P = preliminary

Our Sources

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) Remarks at Spence for Governor Rally, a video posted on YouTube on Sept. 24, 2012

Springfield News-Leader, Christie: Voting for Nixon is akin to voting for Obama, Sept. 24, 2012

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics -- National, accessed Sept. 25, 2012

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Employment Situation -- August 2012, Sept. 7, 2012

PolitiFact Texas, Julián Castro says United States has had 30 straight months of private-sector job growth, Sept. 10, 2012

PolitiFact, NRCC ad says 1,500 jobs lost daily since President Barack Obama took office, Feb. 28, 2012

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More by Bill Wichert

Chris Christie says America has fewer jobs than when Barack Obama became president

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