The recovery Chart of the Day

posted at 3:05 pm on February 24, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Earlier today, on our post about the warning from a Democratic pollster about trying to use an “America is Back” slogan for Barack Obama’s re-election, commenter TopDog linked to a chart that explains very clearly why that strategy won’t work.  Stanley Greenberg wants Obama to argue instead for a less-specific declaration that America is now headed in the right direction, and that Obama has gotten job creation kick-started already:

In 2009, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month. Our biggest banks and auto companies were on the brink of pulling down the whole economy. But we righted the ship. We did not tip into a Great Depression. And over the last 22 months, businesses have created more than 3 million jobs, the most since 2005 and more manufacturing jobs than since the 1990s. We still have a long way to go but we have restored hope and possibility to the economy.

This chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics utterly destroys that argument.  The BLS measures the percentage of working-age adults currently employed in the population — and as can easily be seen, three years of Barack Obama has not made any dent in the trough created by the recession:

That is not recovery.  It’s not even a start to a recovery.  By cherry-picking 22 months, the best Greenberg can claim is job growth of 136,370 jobs per month, which would barely exceed the needed job growth per month to keep up with population growth.

Why cherry-picking?  I explained the issue when Obama tried using this claim during his Google+ hangout at the beginning of the month:

But why 22 months?  Obama began his term in January 2009, and the recession ended in June 2009.   What’s so special about March 2010?  Well, not so surprisingly, that’s almost the nadir of employment during Obama’s presidency, which actually took place in February 2010, two years ago this month. Even if he’d picked the right month, it would still only have been 2.654 million, not 3 million.

Calculating from the end of the recession, the net job creation from those 31 months is only 1.407 million, a wan 45,390 net jobs a month, far below the pace needed to keep up with population growth.   Calculating for the entirety of his presidency, we’re actually in the hole 937,000 jobs.  Obama tried to cherry-pick the worst month in order to claim the most credit he could possible for job growth, and managed to get both the month and the math wrong anyway.

Obama and his strategists can cherry-pick all they like.  This chart tells the real story of Obamanomics and job creation during his term.


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Now what happened in Jan-07 that might have affected hiring/firing decisions nationwide….

Oh, that’s right, San-Fran-Nan took control of the gavel…

phreshone on February 24, 2012 at 4:35 PM

…and immediately passed a 45% increase in the minimum wage.

rockmom on February 24, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Actually, I think this chart shows the Employment-Population ratio for the entire population, not just the working age population (“16 years and over”). People drop out of the work force for a variety of reasons (some just retire). But if you want to see something really interesting, check out the same chart here (http://metricmash.com/unemployment.aspx?code=LNS12300000) and expand the range out over 40 years. Turns out the Employment-Population ratio actually peaked some time ago … around 2000, to be exact.

Anyway, I would be careful about using statistics such as Employment-Population ratios as indicators of economic health. This is not a commonly used metric because it simply captures too many factors (like changing demographics).

TouchdownBuddha on February 24, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Good points. And thanks for the link. That’s a cool adjustable chart, and very informative.

Drew Lowell on February 24, 2012 at 4:58 PM

I’ve seen better looking graphs on heart monitors…….just after a heart attack!

GarandFan on February 24, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Just when you thought the Dims couldn’t get anymore pathetic there’s this-

http://www.ktrh.com/cc-common/news/sections/newsarticle.html?feed=121300&article=9808169

redridinghood on February 24, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Actually, I think this chart shows the Employment-Population ratio for the entire population, not just the working age population (“16 years and over”).

TouchdownBuddha on February 24, 2012 at 3:44 PM

No, it is specifically working age population:

Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Series Id: LNS12300000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title: (Seas) Employment-Population Ratio
Labor force status: Employment-population ratio
Type of data: Percent or rate
Age: 16 years and over

BTW The figures ARE seasonally adjusted. The actual unadjusted figure for January is lower at 57.9%, not 58.5%. I do think seasonal adjustments are useful and not subject to manipulation, as year-to-year data would show any distortion. I was unable to find historical unadjusted values except Jan 2012.

topdog on February 24, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Obama and his strategists can cherry-pick all they like. This chart tells the real story of Obamanomics and job creation during his term.

AMEN!

I read an account earlier today where Eugene Robinson, Pultizer Prize winning propagandist employed by the Washington Post, claimed that the GOP has put up a pathetic slate of candidates because Obama was doing a great job and got Bin Ladin. None of the serious GOP stars are willing to run against Obama because he is doing such a great job he get a second term in a walk. It is a brilliant bit of propaganda. Mr. Robinson declares all those running second tier candidates while at the same time propping up the jug-eared bastard destroying this nation.

Happy Nomad on February 24, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Hey look! There’s the Census!

BKeyser on February 24, 2012 at 6:10 PM

He can set the “He tried” trophy next to his Nobel.

NoDonkey on February 24, 2012 at 3:10 PM

The Participation Trophy President!

(Now, let’s see someone turn that into a racial slur.)

Axeman on February 24, 2012 at 6:14 PM

I said it elsewhere, but I should say it here:
Kudos to gekkobear for bringing this graph to light.
If this graph doesn’t improve greatly between now and November, then Obama will be a one term president.

If anyone wants to market a t-shirt with this graph and the caption “What recovery” I will buy the first one!

topdog on February 24, 2012 at 6:37 PM

I said it elsewhere, but I should say it here:
Kudos to gekkobear for bringing this graph to light.
If this graph doesn’t improve greatly between now and November, then Obama will be a one term president.

If anyone wants to market a t-shirt with this graph and the caption “What recovery” I will buy the first one!

topdog on February 24, 2012 at 6:37 PM

This graph needs to be put in a GOP campaign ad.

redridinghood on February 24, 2012 at 6:51 PM

This chart should be in EVERY GOP ad for every elected office in the land.

karenhasfreedom on February 24, 2012 at 7:23 PM

Another flashback to gekkobear’s wisdom…

I’m more curious what the gainfully employed number will be…

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12300000

We’re at 58.1% right now; lowest number since the 1983 recession… or a 25+ year low point for employment.

And it’s much harder to “trick” the number when you’re looking at employed people instead of picking which unemployed you’ll count and which don’t really count.

Of course the government doesn’t use this number; you can’t fake a “recovery” when the employed percentage keeps dropping. You need a number you can gimmick into looking higher so you can claim things are better… so some people will fall for it.

gekkobear on August 17, 2011 at 1:47 PM

ITguy on February 24, 2012 at 7:43 PM

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the resident population of the United States, is currently estimated to be over 313,000,000.

I don’t know what percentage of the total population is age 15 or younger, but let’s just say that is 20% of the population.

So, I estimate that the population age 16+ is 80% * 313 Million = 250.4 Million

That means 1% of the age 16+ population is about 2.5 Million.

So to return to level of employment that we had under President Bush and the Republican Congress, all that Obama and the Democrats have to do is create about 12.5 Million jobs!

Does anyone believe that they can do that between now and the election?

I don’t.

Which means that the Republicans can pretty safely say from now until the election that the level of employment under this Democrat majority is lower than where it was when the balance of power shifted from Republicans to Democrats in January 2007.

ITguy on February 24, 2012 at 8:01 PM

Eeeerrrrrrn, bum, bum, bum.

It looks like we’re bouncing on the bottom.

Axeman on February 24, 2012 at 8:30 PM

create about 12.5 Million jobs!

Does anyone believe that they can do that between now and the election?

ITguy on February 24, 2012 at 8:01 PM

Doesn’t matter . He just wants the unemployment rate in the mid to low 7s and he will claim victory.

CW on February 24, 2012 at 8:33 PM

Since 1/10 the chart shows a non-trending, consolidation pattern, suggesting that without some sort of strong, external jolt in job volume there will be no uptrend in employment and sideways will continue indefinately.

kenny on February 24, 2012 at 10:17 PM

I’ve been flogging this same stat unnoticed for months. I’m glad somebody else finally decided to join in. It could destroy Obama’s chances for re-election.

OhioCoastie on February 25, 2012 at 2:24 AM

I’ve been flogging this same stat unnoticed for months. I’m glad somebody else finally decided to join in. It could destroy Obama’s chances for re-election.

OhioCoastie on February 25, 2012 at 2:24 AM

You’re not posting enough to get your “merit badges for excessive posting” like they do on Huffington Post…..lol ( sarc)

DevilsPrinciple on February 25, 2012 at 2:36 AM

I honestly don’t care about not being known. I just want the chart to be known.

OhioCoastie on February 25, 2012 at 3:27 AM

Eeeerrrrrrn, bum, bum, bum.

It looks like we’re bouncing on the bottom.

Axeman on February 24, 2012 at 8:30 PM

More or less.
Obama would like to say that he prevented a Great Depression, but the fact is that he has been pushing us there, and the only mitigating factor has been the Republicans in Congress slowing him down.

Count to 10 on February 25, 2012 at 11:08 AM

I honestly don’t care about not being known. I just want the chart to be known.

OhioCoastie on February 25, 2012 at 3:27 AM

Well done, OhioCoastie! I like the combination of this graph, the debt as % of GDP graph, and the party control graph, all in 1.

And I like that you, like many of us here, don’t care who gets “credit”, we just care that the truth gets out and shared with as many people as possible.

BPinNC on February 25, 2012 at 12:08 PM

Well done, OhioCoastie! I like the combination of this graph, the debt as % of GDP graph, and the party control graph, all in 1.

And I like that you, like many of us here, don’t care who gets “credit”, we just care that the truth gets out and shared with as many people as possible.

BPinNC on February 25, 2012 at 12:08 PM

Thanks. Now copy and paste it into an e-mail and send it around. I don’t care if you link to me or credit me. Post it on Facebook as your own work. Tweet it. Capitalize on your credibility with your family, friends, and coworkers. Just get the image out there. The mushy-headed middle of the electorate must be forced to see reality. How they respond is up to them, but they must face the truth.

I’ve updated it every month when the unemployment numbers come out, and I’ll continue to do so through the end of this year.

OhioCoastie on February 25, 2012 at 1:27 PM

create about 12.5 Million jobs!

Does anyone believe that they can do that between now and the election?

ITguy on February 24, 2012 at 8:01 PM

With 1.2 million people dropping out of the labor market effectively lowering unemployment every month like January, we could be down to 6%.

jukin3 on February 25, 2012 at 5:39 PM

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