Given that the Republican Convention speakers last week all argued that the Obama Administration has destroyed the economy, I was curious what facts might exist to support such claims. As somebody who lives his life according to the creed “Show Me The Data”, I wanted to see for myself just how bad job growth has been during the Obama Administration. ( I didn’t want to hear some business reporter who never took a math or statistics class tell me.)

So I went to the Bureau of Labor Statistics ( to get some data for myself. I downloaded various variables about the labor force from March 1939 to June 2016. Below is a plot of one of these variables: Seasonally Adjusted Private-Sector Workers in the USA Labor Force (data given for each yearly quarter). I’ll let you decide whether the Obama Administration has destroyed jobs.  Here is a plot of the total seasonally adjusted number of jobs for each quarter over the period:

Source accessed 24 July 2016.

Source accessed 24 July 2016.

I was thinking the coarse signs of economic apocalypse would be pretty evident in these raw numbers. For example, no increase or a decrease in the number of jobs since 2009 might be a sign of an economic apocalypse. At least that’s the impression I got last week. 

However, let’s look at job “growth”, or the rate of increase in the number of new jobs over each quarter , based on these data.  If you take these raw data (i.e., uncorrected for all the stuff like total population size, demographic distributions, etc., that a real economist would do) and calculate the rate of change each quarter as the difference in the number of jobs in consecutive quarters divided by the total in the first quarter of each comparison and then expressed as a percent, here’s what you get.


Also, one can look at the averages for each presidential administration.  If you go back to President Reagan, here are the averages:  Reagan 0.56%; GHW Bush 0.11%; Clinton 0.66%; GW Bush 0.03%; Obama 0.25%.

Economic apocalypse must mean that the job growth rate (admittedly uncorrected for all the stuff that a real economist would use) in the BHO Administration is greater than the job growth rate in the GWB Administration (even averaging in the last five quarters of the Great Recession to the BHO Administration), greater than the job growth rate of the GHWB Administration, and less than job growth rates in the RR and BC Administrations.

For example, if the ACA is such a “Job Killer” where’s the step-function decrease in jobs that should have happened after 2010?

Other economic statistics I’ve looked at in my admittedly very cursory inquiry look quite the same. I would just like to be a member of the not-stupid party (to paraphrase one of our former presidential candidates) that actually uses data to support their claims.