NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 19, 2004

The opposition's criticisms of President Bush's policies on jobs -- namely, that they've caused the loss of 3 million jobs and have contributed to the worst job record since the Great Depression -- are without foundation, says economist Alan Reynolds (Cato Institute).

From January 2001 to August 2003, payroll employment fell by 2.6 million. This number, writes Reynolds, has often been described as "nearly 3 million" -- at times, leaving out the "nearly." But for the past year, employment has risen by 1.5 million, resulting in a net job loss of 1.1 million.

The opposition also compares Bush's handling of jobs to the Great Depression. Again, Reynolds says that the facts just do not bear this out:

  • The loss of jobs during Bush's tenure amounted to less than 2 percent of the total workforce.
  • By comparison, there was a 2.8 percent job loss in 1974-75, 3.1 percent in 1981-82, 4.4 percent in 1957-58, and 5.2 percent job loss in 1948-49, let alone the Great Depression.
  • The unemployment rate since 1970 has averaged 6.3 percent; the current rate is 5.6 percent.

Reynolds explains that, while it would normally be considered insane to equate today's below-average unemployment rate with the Great Depression, this is not a normal year -- it is an election year.

Source: Alan Reynolds (Cato Institute), "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,", July 8, 2004.


Browse more articles on Economic Issues