Politics

05.10.12

Which Party Creates More Jobs?

Here’s a little something everybody ought to know about, from Bloomberg News. They tallied up private-sector job creation since Kennedy’s presidency. Democrats have held the White House for 23 of those years, according to Bberg, and Republicans 28. So fill in this blank: The U.S. economy has created ___ private-sector jobs in the Democrats’ 23 years, and ___ such jobs in the Republicans’ 28 years.

Before we get to the answer, let’s toss in a little background. The political scientist Larry Bartels published a book, Unequal Democracy, on precisely this subject in 2008. I reviewed it for The New York Review of Books. It was interesting because social scientists like Bartels don’t want to think that politics really drives events, but Bartels looked at the evidence on job creation and economic growth under every president since Truman and reached certain inevitable conclusions.

Does that give you any hints? I’ll tell you: Adjust your first-instinct numbers. Then adjust them again.

Ready? Now I’m just killing time so that the answer will be below the fold.

The answer is that 42 million jobs were created under Democratic presidents, and 24 million under Republicans. You can check out the chart here. The champion of course is Clinton, with 20.8 million under Bberg’s numbers. Then comes Reagan at 14.7. Then come Johnson and Carter (yep, Carter). Then Nixon. And so on.

George W. Bush? The private sector lost 600,000 jobs. Imagine. In eight years, he did not create a single job. Obama is now in positive territory to the tune of 40,000, so even though Dubya handed him the biggest economic catastrophe in 80 years, he at least is in the black.

Anyway. The numbers are amazing. And it gets even better. Bloomberg’s Bob Drummond also counted up the number of public-sector jobs created in the respective 23 and 28 years. Results: Federal, state, and local government payrolls grew by 7.1 million under Republicans, and 6.3 million under Democrats.

So drink this in: Private-sector job growth is massively greater under Democrats, and it’s Republicans who’ve increased the public tit.

Now, some sophisticates will say well, you can’t really measure these things from the day a president took office. Better to start when that president’s policies started taking effect. But that is exactly what Bartels did (read my Review piece for details)—and it still came out to a huge advantage for Democratic presidents. In fact, the Obama jobs numbers would be pretty terrific under this methodology, because he wouldn’t have all those Bush-created job losses hanging around his neck. And at the front end, Dubya got credit for some jobs that Clinton’s policies actually created.

If I were the head of the DNC, I’d buy a billboard on a prominent roadway in every county in America and slap these numbers up there.