Unemployment Reality Check Update

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Much has been said, and made, about the miserable unemployment numbers and how that’s likely to affect Barack Obama‘s bid for a second term.

Those who have read this blog from time to time may recall that I’ve been tracking the unemployment figures and have been keeping a running total of how they compare to the same exact period in President Ronald Reagan‘s first term.

As I’ve mentioned before, many people have forgotten—especially Republicans—that unemployment under Reagan wasn’t a shining statistic for him to point to during his initial four years. It reached the highest point to-date other than the Great Depression at 10.8% and slowly came back down.

Unemployment Comparison: Obama vs. Reagan 1

Today’s unemployment figures have been released and we find ourselves at 8.1%. Where was Reagan at this same point? Well, he was at 7.5%. In other words, the current difference in unemployment figures between Obama and Reagan, is just 0.6%. Understand that times were different in 80’s and Reagan had the benefit of a Congress that wasn’t out to destroy him at all costs. The Democrats in office then understood the concept of compromise for the good of the nation—and so did the President. The result in Reagan’s second term was a sharp decline in unemployment heavily impacted by increased taxes that stabilized the markets and restored confidence in the corporate sector.When you hear the pundits talking about how no President has ever been re-elected with unemployment numbers so high the one thing the conservative ones neglect to point out is that the high point for that is Reagan at 7.2%.

The included chart shows the comparison between them including estimated numbers for Obama based on past performance for the remainder of the year. Notice the flat-line in the summer for Reagan that led up to his re-elections while Obama continues similarly—but trends down as well. Also remember the start of the issue. Reagan created his own mess as you can easily see from the chart while Obama stepped into a spiraling climb in unemployment from day one.

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