Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

The Reince Priebus Job Growth Standard: An assessment

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy added 321,000 jobs in November, and job data for September and October were revised upward, adding another 44,000 to the total employment number.

That makes November the 49th consecutive month of job growth and the 10th consecutive month in which the economy added more than 200,000 jobs. So far in 2014, we've added 2.65 million jobs, which is more jobs than we've added in an entire year since 1999.

We're still dogged by a lot of problems, including a growing income inequity that has building for three decades now and shows every sign of continuing. But as President Obama noted, “Over the last four years we’ve put more people back to work than Europe, Japan and all other industrialized advanced countries combined.”

Of course, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, pronounced himself singularly unimpressed:

“Creating 300,000 jobs in one month shouldn’t be a new high; it should be the minimum we expect. Today’s jobs report shouldn’t be an aberration; it should be the norm. Sadly, it’s not.”

Yes, it certainly would be nice if we could add 300,000 jobs a month, each and every month. It would also be nice if we had personal jetpacks to fly us to place to place and chocolate that did not get us fat, but alas, we do not.

For example, during the Bush presidency -- after passing tax cuts for the rich that were going to set off an economic boom, after gutting the EPA, the National Labor Relations Board, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other pesky regulatory agencies supposedly holding back the economy, we met the Priebus Standard of 300,000 jobs exactly six times in 96 months. However, in those 96 months, we also experienced six months in which we lost more than 300,000 jobs.

Overall, job growth under President Bush averaged a measly 13,000 a month, and literally all of that job growth came from growth in the number of government jobs. When Bush left the White House, the private sector employed 460,000 fewer Americans than it did when he took the oath of office eight years earlier.

As I always like to point out, presidents get too much credit for the economy when it's going well, and too much blame when it's going poorly. However, it's an absolute fact that the economy did not produce anything near the growth that Republicans promised when they cut taxes on the rich and took the budget from a surplus to historic deficits. It is also a fact that if Republicans had carried the day in the early months of the Obama administration by blocking the stimulus package and the rescue package for the auto industry, the economy today would be in a much worse state than we find it.

That's just the truth.


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.