Unemployment Rate: Clinton v. Bush43

Max Sawicky has more fun with this, which goes in a different direction that we did. Max has been reading a few rightwing blogs who think the 4.4% unemployment rate in March 2007 was lower than any of the unemployment rates we saw under Clinton. He also notes that Tony Fratto made this claim:

“If you go back to this point in the Clinton expansion,” Fratto said, “they would have loved to have seen the numbers that we have right now.” “On the unemployment rate, we’re a full percentage point below where they were at the same point in the expansion – 60 or 61 months in,” he said. “They would have loved to have been at 4.4 percent. They were still up in the mid-5s, which is huge, when you think about it.”

Now it is true that the unemployment rate as of March 1998 was 4.7%. But take a look at our graph and see what Max means by:

When Clinton took office it was 7.3. Once reason Bush does better by this particular metric is because he followed Clinton.

In other words, the decline in the unemployment rate was greater during the first five years of the Clinton Presidency than the decline during the first five years of the Bush43 Administration.

Update: Leave to a National Review nitwit such as Jonah Goldberg to suggest this stupidity from Glenn Reynolds was a “good little post”. Jonah – try checking with Max before posting things that will come back to embarrass you.

One of Glenn’s readers blames the weakness of the recovery on the press:

That said, the current economy is strong despite a cataclysmic terrorist attack, a devastating hurricane, high gas prices and incessant, negative reporting. As I’m sure you can imagine, chronic negative reporting does affect the public’s opinion even when the facts belie the media’s and politicians’ misrepresentations.

I wonder if Meg Kreikemeier has empirical support for this thesis and if she’ll be submitting this to the American Economic Review for publication?