Rightly or wrongly, presidents get the credit for the state of the economy. And even though the effect they have really only impacts the overall economy on the margins, it’s interesting to see how the economy changed during their tenure.
One way to measure the change in the economy during a president’s tenure is to measure the net increase in employment. In theory, the more people with jobs, the better the economy is doing.
While this simplifies the machinations of the economy into one metric, it’s a fun one.
So with that in mind, we calculated the net jobs created, or lost, by month for each of the presidents over the last forty years starting with Jimmy Carter and ending with the last two provisional months of data for Donald Trump using the BLS’s just released data.
Summary Of Findings
- Clinton holds the record for the most jobs created at the end of the first (11,654,000) and second terms in office (23,233,000)
- Clinton, unsurprisingly, holds the record for the largest single term gain in jobs at under 12mil
- W. Bush had the least number of job gains during his time in office
- Three presidents have had to deal with recessions in their first term
- Only W. Bush inherited a recession and left his predecessor with a recession
First we had to collect the data from the BLS on net monthly changes in jobs. They make the data easy enough to export here after some play withing the tool. We mentioned it earlier, but the last two months of data for September and October are preliminary and will be revised in the coming releases of the data from the BLS.
We then retrieved the list of presidents and their tenure from Wikipedia’s list.
Finally, we indexed each president’s term to 0 so that they all fit on the same graph and you could see the change in the cumulative number of jobs added to the economy over time.
You can download our manipulated data set here.