Tomorrow’s Debate and the Employment Numbers

Governor George W. Bush during the 2000 campaign promised that 5 million new jobs would be created over his 4-years in office if he were to become President. That would have represented about a 1% per year increase in employment, which is about how fast labor supply increases each year.

The Payroll Survey numbers from BLS show that employment may have fallen by over 910,000 from January 2001 to August 2004. Tomorrow, we shall learn the September 2004 employment numbers. Some have already started speculating that employment growth may be as little as 100,000. Kash noted earlier the White House “job memo” that the Payroll figures are underestimating recent job growth by an amount near 300,000. At the end of the day, however, the Payroll Survey will very likely suggest that employment has fallen under George Bush.

Of course, we know how this White House loves to cite the Household Survey figures whenever it suits their spin. I would not be surprised if President Bush tries to argue that this figure rose from 137.8 million as of January 2001 to 139.7 million as of August 2004 – or whatever figure is reported tomorrow morning. Of course, the BLS table does have the following footnote, which the White House often forgets to mention:

Data affected by changes in population controls in January 2000, January 2003 and January 2004.