Title of course to be sung to the Sam Cooke hit.
Anyway, Mitt Romney’s claim to the presidency is based on one thing: he’s an economics guy; he understands the economy; he’s all about the numbers; he knows how we can get the economy moving again.
Romney severely undercut that claim today in his foolish comments over last month’s job numbers. The numbers, which were not great but were still in positive territory (+115,000 jobs), led Romney to say this:
“We should be seeing numbers in the 500,000 jobs created per month,” Romney said. “This is way, way, way off from what should happen in a normal recovery.” …
“Anything over 8 percent, anything near 8 percent, anything over 4 percent, is not a cause for celebration,” he said.
OK, let’s look at both of those claims. First, the truly outlandish one: that we should be seeing 500,000 jobs created every month if this were a “normal recovery.” Want to know how many times job growth like that has happened in, say, the last 50 years? Five. In only five months in the last 50 years have 500,000 or more jobs been added to the economy. Those months are March 1978 (513,000), April 1978 (702,000), September 1983 (1.114 million), September 1997 (507,000), and May 2010 (516,000). As you can see from that list, only once in the last 50 years has it happened two months in a row (March-April 1978), and it’s worth noting that in the month before the biggest job month ever (Sept 1983), over 300,000 jobs were lost. Also worth noting is the fact that a Democrat was president in four of those five months of 500K+ job growth.
So Romney is just completely out to lunch on that one. How about the unemployment rate? Is he crazy to say that any time the unemployment rate is above 4%, things are bad?
Basically, yes. Again, let’s look back 50 years. There have been exactly two stretches during that time in which the unemployment rate was at or below 4%. Those stretches are a four-year period from December 1965 through January 1970 (a period that spanned the administrations of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon), and a one-year period from December 1999 through December 2000, which of course was during Bill Clinton’s presidency. And that’s it. Never once in the presidency of Republican hero Ronald Reagan did the unemployment rate dip below 5%, never mind 4%.
For a numbers guy, Romney has an awfully shaky grasp on numbers.
[All the data for this post are available at this link. Unfortunately, I can't link directly to completed searches, so you'll have to run the numbers yourself if you want to check my figures.]