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There has been a large increase in the number of jobs since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021
But the increase was marked by the rollout of vaccines, the reopening of businesses and a return to semi-normal after the coronavirus pandemic
Also, presidents don’t really create jobs. There are many more factors at play in the economy.
In recent months, many people have returned to work, but the pace of new jobs hasn’t quite matched expectations as the delta variant has sent hospitals reeling with new cases.
So, the performance of the economy has been closely watched.
U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee on Sept. 3, 2021 took to Twitter to credit President Joe Biden with a historic upturn in the number of new jobs:
"President Biden has created more jobs in his first 7 months than any POTUS in history. During a pandemic. And an economic downturn. President Biden’s leadership is helping America bounce back and our economy recover. Democrats will continue moving us forward."
For the purpose of this fact-check, we’re going to focus on the first part of that tweet -- that Biden has created more jobs than any other president in his first seven months in office.
Is it true? And should Biden get the credit -- as Moore frames it -- for that increase.
When asked for backup for the claim, Moore’s staff sent us two links: the Sept. 3, 2021 economic update from the Joint Economic Committee, issued the day of Moore’s tweet, and data compiled by Federal Reserve Economic Data, which pulls its information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
First, let’s look at how many jobs have been created in 2021, starting in February, the first full month of Biden’s presidency, using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
February: 536,000 new jobs
July: 1.1 million
August (latest month available): 235,000
That all adds up to about 4.5 million net new jobs added since Biden was sworn in.
And that number is higher than any other president since the end of World War II, said Sophia Koropeckyj, managing director for Moody’s Analytics. Here’s a breakdown of job growth (or loss) for the first seven months for those presidents, with the year their terms began:
Joe Biden, 2021: gain of 4,454,000
Jimmy Carter, 1977: 2,385,000
Richard Nixon, 1969: 1,569,000
Bill Clinton, 1993: 1,412,000
Donald Trump, 2017: 1,312,000
Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963: 964,000
George H.W. Bush, 1989: 959,000
John F. Kennedy, 1961: 615,000
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953: 345,000
George W. Bush, 2001: - 670,000
Ronald Reagan, 1981: -701,000
Gerald Ford, 1974: -1,971,000
Harry Truman, 1945: -2,450,000
Barack Obama, 2009: -3,570,000
So, Biden does top the list.
But in making the claim, Moore gave all the credit to Biden, when -- in reality -- many other factors are at work. In short, experts say too much credit -- and blame -- goes to presidents, governors and mayors for things out of their control.
"The increase in jobs is explained by the reopening of businesses and government and schools following shutdowns in 2020 due to the pandemic," said Koropeckyj of Moody’s. "Favorable fiscal policies have helped."
To be sure, Biden did sign the American Rescue Act, in March 2021, a massive stimulus plan that provided checks to all Americans, extended unemployment and expanded child tax credits.But much of the money meant to help states and businesses is still being distributed, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, so it’s hard to judge what impact that spending has had on the overall economy and jobs.
In any case, the job growth began before Biden took office.
There had been monthly increases from May through November of 2020, followed by a drop in December 2020, then an increase of 233,000 jobs in January 2021. That’s evidence the economy was getting back on track before Biden did anything.
Presidents -- and other top officials -- love to measure their success by the success of the economy.
But experts have long cautioned that though presidents hold a powerful position, they don’t really dictate the economy.
For instance, Biden inherited an economy that was beginning to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and with vaccinations about to roll out for millions of Americans. With more people vaccinated and able to move about more freely, more money was being spent. That increased demand and the need for workers. And with vaccinations available, more went back to work.
In short, how you do as president depends a lot on where you start.
When you take office at the bottom of a recession with high unemployment numbers, you "achieve" a lot of growth as the economy heals, according to a Jan. 17, 2017 article in the New York Times. When you take office with a low level of unemployment and more job growth, there is often nowhere to go but down.
Moore claimed that Biden has "created more jobs in his first 7 months than any POTUS in history."
As is typical with such claims, Moore is on target with the numbers -- though, we’d note the increase in jobs began before Biden took office -- but gives too much credit to Biden for his role in something that is largely out of his control.
Our definition for Half True is: "The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context.
That fits here.
Gwen Moore, Twitter, Sept. 3, 2021
Joint Economic Committee, "Economic Update," Sept. 3, 2021
Federal Reserve Economic Data, "All employees, total nonfarm," Sept. 2021
Bureau of Labor Statistics, "The Employment Situation, Aug. 2021," Sept. 3, 2021
Email interview with Sophia Koropeckyj, managing director of Moody’s Analytics, Sept. 20, 2021
U.S. Department of the Treasury, "Coronavirus state and local fiscal recovery funds," Sept. 21, 2021
New York Times, "Presidents have less power over the economy than you might think," Jan. 17, 2017
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