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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Net job loss

Dick Cheney and John Edwards disagreed on many things Tuesday night, but nowhere was their differing interpretations of facts more apparent than on the issue of job loss. As the New York Times describes, "Mr. Edwards said that the nation has lost 1.6 million private-sector jobs since Mr. Bush took office, while Mr. Cheney said the nation has added 1.7 million jobs in the past year."

Both numbers have an element of truth to them.

The Times comments:

"According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of payroll jobs has declined by about 900,000 since Mr. Bush took office. Mr. Edwards's higher number comes from isolating private-sector jobs, not taking into account increases in state, local and federal government jobs.

Mr. Cheney was correct in saying that the nation has added about 1.7 million jobs in the past year. But employment has yet to return to its level before the 2001 recession and a sharp decline in manufacturing employment continued for nearly two years after the recession officially ended in November 2001.

More importantly, in the view of many economists, employment growth has lagged even further behind the growth in population. The nation's adult work force climbs by more than a million people every year. So even if the number of jobs returns to its level of January 2001, as many as three million more people would still be unemployed or underemployed than they were then."

To put it in plain English: Job creation hasn't kept pace with population growth. Some jobs have returned over the last year but not enough to restore employment to its pre-Bush level.


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