Monday, September 27, 2004

Not 900K, not 1.7M, but 7,500,000 jobs lost since 1/2001 
Okay - I am not an economist.

Every month, like everyone else, I see news reports about the number of new jobs and the number of new unemployment claims. Almost daily I, like everyone else who's paying attention to the election, hear the competing claims about jobs - Bush crowing about the low unemployment rate, Kerry about the loss of jobs over the last 4 years. There seems to be little doubt that jobs HAVE been lost since Bush took office, even if the number of jobs is in dispute - Kerry supporters claim 1.7 million fewer jobs while Bush supporters (when they can be pinned down on the issue) admit to 900,000 or so fewer jobs than in January 2001.

Here's where my lack of economic sophistication comes into play. The conventional wisdom vis-a-vis job growth is that, given the current US population, the economy must create 150,000 new jobs (in addition to those already in existence) in order to keep up with work-force growth. I.e., about 150,000 people enter the workforce every month. Both the Bush and the Kerry job numbers address only those jobs that existed in January 2001- but, by that workforce growth rule-of-thumb, the 44 months of the Bush administration should have seen the creation of (44*150,000=)6,600,000 new jobs. According to the most recent job numbers I saw, the US economy had 131.5 million jobs, compared to 132.4 million jobs at the end of the Clinton administration, for a net loss of about 900K jobs. But that ignores the 6.6 million jobs that should have been created over the same period to keep up with workforce growth. There ought to be 138.1 million jobs in the US today.

Again, I'm not an economist, so I have no way of knowing if my reasoning here is valid, and I'd appreciate someone telling me if these numbers work ... but it certainly seems as if, during George Bush's tenure, the jobs shortfall is at least 7.5 Million.

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