NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 21, 2005

Critics allege Depression-like conditions were pervasive during President Bush's first term in office, but the empirical evidence shows an entirely different picture, says Noel Sheppard of Tech Central Station.

While it is true that payroll data indicate that there have been some 175,000 net jobs lost under Bush, Sheppard says there are a host of other indicators that more than offset that finding:

  • Household survey data, which includes small businesses and self-employment, indicates a net increase of 2.5 million jobs since Bush first took office, which includes 4.5 million jobs gained from the recession employment low in January 2002.
  • Average weekly pay for production or nonsupervisory employees was 10.5 percent higher by the end of Bush's first term, outpacing the rise in inflation (9.8 percent).
  • Consumer net worth, the total of consumer assets minus liabilities, rose to a record-high $45 trillion by the end of 2003 and is almost certainly higher in 2004 given last year's 9 percent increase in the S&P 500.
  • Home ownership reached a peak of 68.6 percent in 2003 (2004 figures not yet available), representing a 2.4 percentage point increase over Bush's first term; by contrast, home ownership increased by 1.8 percentage points over President Clinton's two terms.

When one includes the 33 percent aggregate increase in home values over this same period, Sheppard suggests it is clear that the overall economic picture was a positive one for the American consumer.

Source: Noel Sheppard, "More Depressions Like This, Please," Tech Central Station, January 12, 2005.

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