Sun, Aug 08, 2004 - Page 10 News List

US jobs disappoint, though data differ

EMPLOYMENT Partisan politicians can make a lot of hay by focusing on the set of numbers that seems to best reflect a convenient view of economic growth

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

By the time the establishment survey hit bottom, in August of last year, it indicated that 705,000 jobs had vanished since January 2002, bringing the total job loss in the Bush administration to 2.6 million. But the household survey found that nearly 2 million jobs had been added since January 2002, almost reversing the job losses earlier in the Bush administration.

Since then, the two surveys have fluctuated, but the establishment survey has continued to paint a bleaker picture than the household one.

Politics

Going back to former US president Harry Truman, Bush -- by either measure -- has presided over an economy that has produced the poorest job creation record of any occupant of the White House to this point in a presidential term. The second worst was turned in by Bush's father, former US president George Herbert Walker Bush, who failed to win a second term in 1992.

But good job records also do not guarantee electoral success. The two best terms by that measure ended in 1968, when former US president Lyndon Johnson was president, and in 1980, when former US president Jimmy Carter was in the White House. In each year the Democrats were thrown out of the White House by dissatisfied voters.

A Democratic partisan would note that six of the seven best presidential terms, as measured by the establishment survey through the first three and a half years, have been under Democratic presidents, with the only Republican to make that list being former US president Ronald Reagan in his second term, when jobs grew by 9.5 percent. The seven worst by that measure were all Republican administrations.

On average, the establishment survey has shown a 10.1 percent rise under Democrats and a 4 percent gain under Republicans. The household survey has shown a less marked preference for Democrats, whose edge is 6.7 percent to 4.8 percent.

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