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Politifact: Time frame makes Reid's jobs claim totally wrong

The statement

There was a "loss of eight million jobs during the Bush eight years."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Tuesday in a floor speech

The ruling

We looked at jobs numbers compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the government's official source of employment data.

During President George W. Bush's eight years in office — January 2001 to January 2009 — the nation actually gained a net 1.09 million jobs. (Because there were gains in government jobs, the private sector actually lost 653,000 jobs during that period.)

This isn't remotely close to what Reid claimed.

From the economy's peak to its low point, the nation lost 8.75 million jobs. But the peak came in January 2008, while the low point came in February 2010.

This means the starting point for Reid's measure came seven years into Bush's eight-year tenure, and the low point occurred about a year into President Barack Obama's tenure.

Reid had a point in saying that there was a "loss of eight million jobs" — but it didn't come "during the Bush eight years." The loss of 8 million jobs occurred during a roughly two-year period shared more or less equally between Bush and Obama.

Reid may blame Bush's policies for every single one of those jobs lost — an opinion he's entitled to, but one we are unable to fact-check. Still, his statement is incorrect as spoken.

Reid went on to say, "If we go back to the prior eight years during President Clinton's administration, 23 million new jobs were created." We looked at the BLS numbers and found that Reid was basically correct in that claim. From January 1993 to January 2001, the nation gained 22.7 million total jobs.

This means Reid specifically counted Clinton's job-creation numbers from his inauguration day to the date he exited from office, but he did not do so for Bush, even though he used the Clinton figure as a direct comparison. It strikes us as a clear-cut case of cherry-picking.

So Reid is correct that more than 8 million jobs were lost during the recent economic downturn, but he's flat wrong to say that it happened "during the Bush eight years." Then he makes a direct comparison between Bush and Clinton, yet he uses one method that makes Clinton's number seem strong and Bush's number weak. We rate Reid's statement Pants on Fire.

This ruling has been edited for print. Read the full version at

Politifact: Time frame makes Reid's jobs claim totally wrong 08/03/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 8:55pm]
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