Leader Blues

Friday, January 12, 2007

EDITORIALS>>Slow jobs growth

The U. S. Labor Department Bureau of Labor Statistics surrendered — yes, that is the best word — the figures on job growth of the current administration this week. As everyone knows, jobs have not been bountiful. But the news stories proved once again that the best leverage on history is to be in power. History, at least for a time, gets to be what you say it is.

In the first six years of President Bush, the U. S. economy grew by 3.7 million new jobs. How did that compare with the first six years of the other two long-running administrations of recent times, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton? They grew at almost triple the Bush pace under Reagan: 9.5 million. Under Clinton, they grew almost five times as fast: 17.6 million.

Those figures mislead, the president’s commerce secretary, Carlos Guttierez, explained in the Associated Press story. You see, he said, when President Bush took office he had to first drag the country out of the recession that he inherited from Clinton. They have been saying that for five years without challenge.

But there happen to be records on this stuff. Treasury’s records show that the country slid into a very mild recession about three months after Bush took office, not before. That was the period when the administration was putting its bold new economic plan into place.

Then, Guttierez continued, the economy was torpedoed by the terrorist attacks in September 2001. Not according to the records. The country emerged rather strongly from the recession one month after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Sept. 11 was a mighty blow against the country’s psyche and confidence and altered the course of history, but the resilient American economy hummed along quite well, thank you.

Something else accounts for the drastic and sudden decelerated growth in jobs in the middle of 2001, which continues even as corporate profits and the stock market soar to record heights. So far, we have only partisan theories explaining that sad paradox. The prize will go to the ones who figure it out and try to fix it. Distorting history is not the path to truth.