Jobs Added Under Different Presidents

In his speech at the Democratic National Convention, Bill Clinton made the following claim

Well, since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats, 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private sector jobs.

So what’s the job score? Republicans, 24 million; Democrats, 42 (million)

The fact-checking site Politifact was quick to verify his assertion, and also provided a few caveats about the figure — namely, that Presidents probably don’t deserve as much credit or blame for this number as they are given. Nevertheless, I wanted to see the breakdown for myself.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is great for data like this, and I appreciate that our government collects and distributes such data. I took a look at the non-government employment rates that Clinton’s claim is based on (this is the relevant table). First, the raw employment figure from 1961 until today:

US Employment (Non-Government, Seasonally-Adjusted)

Next, color-coded by the sitting president’s party

US Employment by president

Next, the difference in employment from the day each president took office

Jobs added or lost under Presidents since 1961

And shown on top of each other, with the net change:

Jobs added or lost by presidents since 1961

Given the current rhetoric, I was a little surprised at how similar President Obama’s line (lowest blue one) is to President Reagan’s (the highest red one). The turnaround under Obama’s presidency has been slower, but now seems to be improving at a rate comparable to Reagan and Clinton (highest line).