Mitt Rmoney and others have continued to push the claim that unemployment was higher than when Barack Obama took office. This is (at best) a misinterpretation of the facts and (at worst) an outright lie. The unemployment rate was not higher back then than it was when Barack Obama took office. In fact, it was lower. And it continues to drop. Just take a good look at the chart below. It chronicles the unemployment rate in the United States from the time of the 2000 presidential race through the most recent data available.
Fact 1: The unemployment rate when George Bush took office was 4%.
Regardless of what you thought of Bill Clinton, the fact is that he lowered unemployment consistently throughout his presidency. This goes for most presidents. Very few have presided over a nation that saw a constant increase in unemployment. The pattern is fairly consistent: a new president takes office, unemployment rises, and it eventually comes back down at a steady rate.
Fact 2: The unemployment rate when George Bush left office was 7.8%.
Although this number may seem like an exaggeration, that’s a 95% increase in unemployment under the Bush administration. And this only counts the actual end of his term. It ignores the trend that started well into the Bush administration’s last year and how it carried into the Obama administration’s.
Fact 3: When Barack Obama took office the unemployment rate had already been rising for over a year.
Unemployment started to rise in May 2007, and this could not possibly be blamed on Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. Clinton hadn’t been president for several years, and Obama hadn’t even begun running for president. Whether it was the president’s fault or merely the state of the economy, this rise began directly under the Bush administration. By the time Obama took office, the unemployment rate was skyrocketing, and the economy was undergoing a massive depression.
Fact 4: Obama pressed Congress to pass the American Jobs Act in September 2009.
Obama went on a nation-wide tour and even took to television in an attempt to force Congress’ hand. It wasn’t popular among Republicans simply because he’s a Democrat, and it wasn’t popular among Democrats because many were seeking re-election. This meant that both parties were working against Obama and the nation, and it was up to the president to make sure the American people realized how important this was.
Fact 5: The unemployment rate peaked one month after the America Jobs Bill.
Less than a month after the passage of Obama’s jobs bill, the unemployment reached its highest point. Though there have been a couple of months where the rate was higher than the previous month, the overall trend clearly shows that unemployment has been going down since October of 2009.
Fact 6: The unemployment rate has gone down more than twice as fast under the Obama administration than under the Bush administration.
If we ignore the sudden upswing in the last year of the Bush administration, unemployment went down (from its highest point of 6.3% in June 2003 to it’s lowest point of 4.4% in May 2009) at a rate of 0.026% per month. Since the American Jobs Act was passed under Obama the rate has gone down (from its highest point of 10% in October 2009 to it’s lowest point of 5.5% in February 2015) at a rate of 0.059% per month. That’s more than twice as fast as anything Bush was able to accomplish.
Fact 7: The unemployment rate is now lower than it was when Obama took office, and it is continuing to drop.
Though there will inevitably be hiccups on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis, the trend over the past three years has indicated that the unemployment rate will continue to drop at least over the next few months. This is, of course, assuming that Congress can reduce the political in-fighting and keep working towards creating jobs for the American people.
Fact 8: If the current trend continues, unemployment will be below 5% when Obama leaves office.
That’s 2.8% lower than it was when he took office, and that’s also after one of the worst economic collapses in US history. This is just an estimate based on the current trend. This trend could speed up or slow down, but there’s no reason to believe it will simply reverse.
Fact 9: When a new person takes office the unemployment almost always goes up.
Regardless of who the president is or what party they’re from, the unemployment rate almost always goes up near the beginning of their term. This is due to a number of factors, but mostly because of the uncertainty surrounding the change in leadership. So this implies that if Romney is elected the unemployment rate will start to go up next year, and it will continue to do so until he figures out a way to create jobs.
So, the next time you hear someone say that Obama has done nothing for jobs and unemployment, politely inform them that they’re mistaken, and share these facts with them. Because knowing an uncomfortable truth is better than believing a comforting lie.