This graph shows the measure of employment as a ratio of population. Although the swings aren’t huge percentages, with 300 million people in the US, 2% is a monstrous swing.
Clearly, during Clinton’s tenure in office, the US economy was exceptionally robust in almost every measure. Equally as clear is the dramatic downturn that happened at the end of 2000 and is still hurting millions of US workers.
Why do presidents get credit for the economy? Because they are the figurehead for the government and it is impossible to remove the emotional connection between the President and external phenomenon beyond his/her (hopefully someday) control.
However, the president and the congress together do have direct influence over many factors that strongly dictate market forces. The most obvious and important of these include:
• Political Stability
• Overnight Discount Rate – through the Federal Reserve
• Government Spending
• Tarrifs & Trade Decisions
With the exception of the overnight rate, which the Bush administration and Greenspan have handeled well, every one of these have been mishandled to varying degrees.
That’s why it’s stupid to say the Bush team has turned the economy around because the last 9 months have seen 1.4 million new jobs created, which is less than 0.5% of the population at large. I only wonder if John Kerry has any better ideas, and, if he does, whether he’s going to tell us what they are.
To get the data in the graph, visit the Labor Force Statistics page at the US Dept of Labor’s site.