Turning the corner

turning the corner
Apologies and gratitude to Stuart Carlson and Tom Toles, whose cartoons I've bastardized.

Caution— spin zone ahead

On Friday, the government released the latest employment report showing that only 32,000 new jobs were created during the month of July. This was about 150,000 fewer jobs than expected. Meanwhile, President Bush was out on the campaign trail telling cheering throngs of loyal supporters that on the economic front, "we're turning the corner, and we're not going back." And on the Bush re-election website, the headline touted eleven consecutive months of job gains.

Bush on the campaign trail
Headline on georgewbush.com

This seems to be another indication that the Bushies live in a parallel universe where things look quite the opposite to those who have not suspended disbelief. So let's take a look at those jobs numbers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes every month the "Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey of payroll records cover[ing] over 300,000 businesses." Essentially this survey estimates the number of payroll jobs there are and compares the number to the previous month. Here is a chart for the past twelve months:

Past twelve months employment changes
Net change in jobs compared to previous month

Looking at the chart, we see that it is true that the change has been positive for eleven of the last twelve months. But look at the trend! It is equally true that for five of the last five months the number of new jobs created each month has gotten smaller and smaller.

Looking at the chart for the past ten years, we see that the job-creation picture began to deteriorate sharply in 2000, the last year of the Clinton administration.

Past ten years of employment changes

The Bushies like to say they "inherited" a faltering economy. Looking at the chart we see that there's some truth in that. They like to say that their "well-timed" tax cuts were to stimulate the economy and produce jobs. Again, we can see that there's some truth in that. But what you can also see in the chart is that the stimulative effect of the tax cuts is wearing off rapidly. And I think you could argue that the timing wasn't all that great either. If the emerging trend continues, the last two job reports before the election are likely to show net losses of jobs instead of gains.

rose-colored glasses

This is what is so infuriating about the Bushies: they are very selective about which facts they choose to focus on, and their "lies" or "misleading" is a result of omission more than commission. They're very careful and skillful at making sure there's always a kernel of truth to support what they say, while conveniently ignoring everything that doesn't quite fit the picture they want to see.

And what is so infuriating about the media and the public is that they let them get away with it!


Ah, now I understand!