So, you want to be president. Are you a job creator? Or a job destroyer?
Presidential candidates these days seem compelled to make dubious claims about opponents as “job destroyers,” compared to their own record as “job creators.” This has been Mitt Romney’s theme song about himself and President Obama from the beginning. We can expect no less in the presidential debate this week.
Do presidents create jobs? Yes, indirectly, as a result of policy decisions, but how would we measure that? When Obama took office in January, 2009, jobs were in free-fall (Figure 1), with 4.4 million jobs lost since the start of the recession a year earlier, and with monthly losses stuck at their maximum of 700,000 to 800,000 through March. It wasn’t until July that the monthly drop slowed to somewhere below 300,000, reaching zero only in March, 2010, when losses turned to gains. So where does Obama’s responsibility begin? And, when he leaves office, where will it end?
These are not the only questions we must consider if we’re going to take the measure of presidential job creation since the end of World War II. That’s the goal here.