The George W. Bush Job Creation Failure

UPDATED 3/18/2015 with revised BLS data

When it comes to job creation, George W. Bush produced the worst results—less than a one percent increase over eight years—of any president since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) started keeping records in 1939.


See the records for yourself on BLS Table B-1, and select “total non-farm” employment, seasonally adjusted.

This fact was noted by the Wall Street Journal in a Jan. 2009 blog article, “Bush On Jobs: The Worst Track Record On Record,” by the WSJ staff.

While the WSJ article is noteworthy, we take issue with its methodology for counting jobs, where the WSJ staff measures presidential terms from the end of the month before inauguration to the month before leaving office.

BushToll measures from the actual inauguration month to the month of departure, which better reflects a president’s influence on economic policy.

By our reading of the BLS data (non-farm, seasonally adjusted), total employment was 132,696,000 at the beginning of George W. Bush’s term and 133,977,000 at the end, an increase of 0.97 percent over eight years, or an average of 160,125 per year.

[Updated 3/18/2015] In contrast, jobs increased by 2,586,250 per year under Carter, 2,016,375 per year under Reagan, 659,250 per year under George H.W. Bush, 2,861,375 per year under Clinton, and most recently, 1,259,566 per year under Barack Obama, with 83 months of uninterrupted job growth as of December 18, 2015.

Sources:

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table B-1, Total Non-Farm Employment, Seasonally Adjusted through Nov. 2014.
“Bush On Jobs: The Worst Track Record On Record,” Wall Street Journal blog, Jan. 2009
BLS Jobs Report 1938-2014 as compiled by BushToll (PDF)

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9 thoughts on “The George W. Bush Job Creation Failure”

  1. I did what you suggested and looked at the BLS data. The worst track record on record is President Obama. We have lost an average of 300,000 jobs/ year since January 2009. Why was this not mentioned in your post?

  2. The BLS data (which now includes preliminary numbers for Feb. 2012) shows we’ve had 15 consecutive months of job growth, averaging 160,000 new jobs per month.

    Carrying this forward, Pres. Obama is on track to create 896,000 net jobs by the end of his term (January 2013), or 224,000 per year vs. 136,875 for Pres. Bush.

    We’ll update this article with Obama’s numbers at the end of his term.

    ** Updated 12/11/2014. Pres. Obama has now overseen the creation of 6,069,000 jobs, averaging 1,040,400 new jobs per year.

  3. What I love is to hear this Republican Party talk about jobs/economy, they had eight years under Bush and did nothing on either front, if they had we would not be talking about it today! Over a half billion dollars to be spent while we have millions trying to feed themselves, millions without healthcare; we should be ashamed! Americans forget…jobs and the economy only grow when their is demand for goods and services and as long as we have a growing population, and the continued loss due to technology and the fact that Americans continue to buy all thle goods once made in America while we support the economy and jobs of othernations, what part of that doesn’t the American people and the politicians understand?
    We truly are our own worst enemy and the only thing for sure is that government as we know it will continue to borrow money to sustain us as a nation…..regardless of what they say!

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  5. this is all fine and dandy, but as we remember with clinton, just because you are president during the job creation doesn’t mean you had anything to do with it. The republicans in house and senate that switched the party from democrat to republican during the nineties were responsible for their contract with america to create jobs.

  6. also, clinton had to resubmit his budget 5 times before he came to a balanced budget that the republicans had been wanting.

  7. Thanks for your comments. Under Bill Clinton, the U.S. ran a surplus for 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001. We can identify several causes, including Clinton’s 1994 tax hike, the dot-com bubble, Republicans in Congress, and other factors. At the same time, we can safely assume that all presidents work in a dynamic budgeting process, which is why we can compare presidents to each other. In doing so, we can be consistent, that is, not assigning either credit or blame to one president while withholding the same from another president. Then, at the 40,000 foot view we can see the broader trends, for example, the economy and the stock market have tended to do better with a Democrat in the White House. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/b/6ef89a1c-9401-4671-9e6a-1ef74f74d6ed)

  8. I’d be very interested to hear how the Contract with America created jobs. What laws were passed and how did they affect employment?

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