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Wednesday, December 09, 2020

By Request: Public and Private Sector Payroll Jobs During Presidential Terms

by Calculated Risk on 12/09/2020 01:11:00 PM

Note: I usually post this monthly, but I hesitated recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But I've received a number of requests lately - the recent numbers are ugly.

Here is another update of tracking employment during Presidential terms.  We frequently use Presidential terms as time markers - we could use Speaker of the House, Fed Chair, or any other marker.

NOTE: Several readers have asked if I could add a lag to these graphs (obviously a new President has zero impact on employment for the month they are elected). But that would open a debate on the proper length of the lag, so I'll just stick to the beginning of each term.

Important: There are many differences between these periods. Overall employment was smaller in the '80s, however the participation rate was increasing in the '80s (younger population and women joining the labor force), and the participation rate is generally declining now.  But these graphs give an overview of employment changes.

The first graph shows the change in private sector payroll jobs from when each president took office until the end of their term(s). Presidents Carter and George H.W. Bush only served one term.

Mr. G.W. Bush (red) took office following the bursting of the stock market bubble, and left during the bursting of the housing bubble. Mr. Obama (dark blue) took office during the financial crisis and great recession. There was also a significant recession in the early '80s right after Mr. Reagan (dark red) took office.

There was a recession towards the end of President G.H.W. Bush (light purple) term, and Mr. Clinton (light blue) served for eight years without a recession.

Private Sector Payrolls Click on graph for larger image.

The first graph is for private employment only.

Mr. Trump is in Orange (46 months).

The employment recovery during Mr. G.W. Bush's (red) first term was sluggish, and private employment was down 824,000 jobs at the end of his first term.   At the end of Mr. Bush's second term, private employment was collapsing, and there were net 387,000 private sector jobs lost during Mr. Bush's two terms. 

Private sector employment increased by 20,970,000 under President Clinton (light blue), by 14,714,000 under President Reagan (dark red), 9,039,000 under President Carter (dashed green), 1,511,000 under President G.H.W. Bush (light purple), and 11,849,000 under President Obama (dark blue).

During the 46 months of Mr. Trump's term, the economy has lost 2,128,000 private sector jobs.

Public Sector Payrolls A big difference between the presidencies has been public sector employment.  Note: the bumps in public sector employment due to the decennial Census in 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2020. 

The public sector grew during Mr. Carter's term (up 1,304,000), during Mr. Reagan's terms (up 1,414,000), during Mr. G.H.W. Bush's term (up 1,127,000), during Mr. Clinton's terms (up 1,934,000), and during Mr. G.W. Bush's terms (up 1,744,000 jobs).  However the public sector declined significantly while Mr. Obama was in office (down 277,000 jobs).

During the 46 months of Mr. Trump's term, the economy has lost 870,000 public sector jobs.

Trump Job TrackerThe third graph shows the progress towards the Trump goal of adding 10 million jobs over his 4 year term.

After 46 months of Mr. Trump's presidency, the economy has lost 2,998,000 jobs, about 12,581,000 behind the projection.