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On July 14, 2010, Vice President Joe Biden and Christina Romer, who chairs the White House's Council of Economic Advisers, held a news conference to discuss the latest quarterly report on the impact of the economic stimulus bill enacted in February 2009.
At one point, Biden said, "We went from losing 3 million jobs in the last six months of the Bush Administration and 3.6 million, or 3.7 million in the first six months we took office -- inheriting the policy we could not possibly turn around before we could pass anything -- to the first six months of this year, actually adding almost 600,000 private sector jobs."
With Republicans simultaneously putting a less favorable spin on the administration's record of job creation, we thought it would be worth checking each side's facts. (We also analyze a statement by House Minority Leader John Boehner.)
We'll take the claims in order.
• Did the economy shed 3 million jobs during the last six months of President George W. Bush's administration? Actually, that understates the losses.
In July 2008, the general employment level was 137,075,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By January 2009, it was 133,549,000 -- a decline of about 3.5 million jobs.
• Did the economy shed 3.6 million or 3.7 million jobs in the first six months under Obama? That modestly overstates the losses.
In January 2009, the general employment level was 133,549,000. In July 2009, it was 130,294,000. That's a decline of 3.26 million jobs.
• Did the economy add almost 600,000 private sector jobs during the first six months of this year? Very, very close.
In December 2009, the number of private-sector jobs stood at 107,107,000. By June 2010, the number was 107,700,000. That's a difference of 593,000 jobs -- "almost 600,000" in our book.
In all, Biden's numbers understated the losses under Bush and overstated the losses under Obama, but both of these errors work against the administration's own interests. And in the third case, Biden's number easily qualifies as "almost 600,000." All in all, we rate Biden's statement Mostly True.
Joe Biden, video of a press conference on the economic stimulus bill, July 14, 2010
Bureau of Labor Statistics, search form for Table B-1. Employees on nonfarm payrolls by industry sector and selected industry detail, accessed July 15, 2010
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