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Sorting out the truth in politics

PolitiFact: Hillary Clinton exaggerates economic stats under Bill Clinton

The statement

The number of jobs created and people lifted out of poverty during Bill Clinton's presidency was "a hundred times" what it was under President Ronald Reagan.

Hillary Clinton, July 17 on PBS' The Charlie Rose Show

The ruling

Both presidents entered office during weak economic times and exited before the economy went into a downturn.

We'll analyze employment first, then poverty. We looked at 1981 through 1989 for Reagan and 1993 through 2001 for Clinton.

Job creation: We looked at the two most common yardsticks for employment tracked by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics — total nonfarm employment and the unemployment rate. For consistency, we used January's monthly figures for each year.

During the eight years under Reagan, the number of employed people went up by 16.1 million, or an increase of 18 percent over the eight years.

During the eight years under Clinton, the number of employed people went up by 22.9 million, or an increase of 21 percent over the eight years.

While both did well, the number of employed people rose faster under Clinton, both in raw numbers and by percentage.

What about the unemployment rate? Under Reagan, it fell from 7.5 percent to 5.4 percent — a drop of 2.1 percentage points. Under Clinton, it fell from 7.3 percent to 4.2 percent — a drop of 3.1 percentage points.

Both presidents chalked up good marks over eight years, but Clinton's record on job creation over Reagan was modestly superior.

Poverty: We looked at figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, which has tracked poverty figures for decades. We looked at both raw numbers of people in poverty and the poverty rate.

During the eight years under Reagan, the number of Americans in poverty declined by 294,000, a drop in raw numbers of about 1 percent.

During the eight years under Clinton, the number of Americans in poverty declined by 6.5 million, a drop in raw numbers of about 17 percent.

So both presidents oversaw a decline in the raw numbers of people in poverty, but the decline was bigger under Clinton.

Next, we looked at the poverty rate — the percent of all Americans who are impoverished.

During the eight years under Reagan, the poverty rate fell from 14 percent to 12.8 percent, a decline of 1.2 percentage points.

During the eight years under Clinton, the poverty rate fell from 15.1 percent to 11.7 percent, a decline of 3.4 percentage points.

So, again, the poverty rate declined under both presidents, but the decline was bigger under Clinton.

Put it all together and Clinton's record does outpace Reagan's on the four statistical measures we looked at. But the differences are not like night and day, as her phrasing claims. It's a vast exaggeration to say Clinton's record is 100 times better than Reagan's. Even allowing for some over-enthusiasm on Clinton's part, the differences are fairly modest. We rate the claim False.

Edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com.

PolitiFact: Hillary Clinton exaggerates economic stats under Bill Clinton 07/25/14 [Last modified: Friday, July 25, 2014 6:56pm]
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