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Obama’s inflated jobs claim

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Obama’s inflated jobs claim

  • President Barack Obama in Abington, Pa
    Rob Rudloff/FlickrPresident Barack Obama in Abington, Pa

In a new TV ad, President Obama makes an inflated claim to have added 5.2 million new jobs. The total added during his time in office is actually about 325,000.

In the ad, the president says "over 5 million new jobs" while the figure "5.2 million" appears on screen. But that's a doubly misleading figure.

  • Viewers would need to pay close attention to the on-screen graphic to know that the ad refers only to employment gains starting in March 2010, omitting the 4.3 million jobs that were lost in the first year of Obama's term.
  • And there's no way a viewer would know that the total counts only private-sector jobs, omitting continuing losses in government employment.

According to the most recent employment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy has eked out a net gain of 325,000 jobs since January 2009, when Obama took office. And that's giving credit for roughly 386,000 jobs that the BLS has announced, on a preliminary basis, that it will be adding to this year's employment totals next year, as a result of its routine annual "benchmarking" analysis.

Looking only at private-sector jobs, it's true that the total has risen just under 5.2 million since February 2010 — provided that credit is given for roughly 453,000 private-sector jobs to be added next year through the BLS benchmarking process. But over Obama's entire term, those private-sector jobs have gone up only 967,000, even counting benchmarking additions.

Other claims in the ad are essentially accurate: Exports are rising; home values have begun to recover; U.S. automakers are making profits, for example. And viewers can judge for themselves how they feel about the "plan for the next four years" that the president briefly outlines in the ad, which is couched in broad generalities.

But viewers who follow the ad's invitation to visit an Obama website for further information will find some false and misleading claims. There, the campaign, for example, states that "Mitt Romney criticized the end of the Iraq war as ‘tragic,' and has offered no plan withdraw our troops from Afghanistan."

In fact, as we've reported before, Romney did not call the end of the Iraq war "tragic." He used that word to describe the president's pace of troop withdrawal, not ending a war. And more important, there is no longer any difference between Romney's position and Obama's plan to pull all U.S. combat troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Romney, whose position has evolved from criticism to unqualified acceptance, said during the final presidential debate on the night before the ad was released: "[W]hen I’m president, we’ll make sure we bring our troops out by the end of 2014."

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