Snow Job on Jobs
Treasury Secretary Snow Misrepresents Jobs Data
Statement by Dean Baker
For Immediate Release: October 14, 2004
Contact: Debi Kar, 202-387-5080
Dean Baker, 202-332-5218
WASHINGTON, DC -- Treasury Secretary John Snow misrepresented the record on
job growth when he claimed that the economy had created 3.2 million jobs during
the Bush administration. Mr. Snow based this claim on the Labor Department's
survey of households. The Labor Department's survey of establishments, which is
universally accepted by economists as the best measure of job growth, shows that
the economy has lost 585,000 jobs since president Bush took office.
The household survey is designed to measure employment and unemployment
rates, not job growth, which is why economists do not use it to measure job
growth. It is a much smaller survey than the establishment survey, which covers
firms employing near one-third of the country's employees each month. The
establishment survey is also benchmarked using unemployment insurance filings (which
cover more than 99 percent of employees) every year.
Changes in self-employment (a gain of 340,000 during the Bush
administration), which are counted in the household survey, but not the
establishment survey, do not affect the basic picture.
The job loss in the establishment survey is further supported by payroll tax
collections. The growth in payroll taxes (which legally must also be paid by
self-employed workers) corresponds almost exactly to the trends in employment,
hours and wages shown by the establishment survey. Since the payroll tax data is
completely independent of the establishment survey, it provides incontrovertible
support for the jobs data in the establishment survey.
In short, there is no serious basis for disputing the job loss data shown by
the establishment survey. One can legitimately debate the causes of this job
loss and the best path forward, but no credible person can dispute that the
economy has shed jobs during President Bush's term in office.