Public and Private Sector Payroll Jobs: Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama

Source: Bill McBride, Calculated Risk, January 10, 2015

By request, here is an update on an earlier post through the December employment report.

NOTE: Several readers have asked if I could add a lag to these graphs (obviously a new President has zero impact on employment for the month they are elected). But that would open a debate on the proper length of the lag, so I’ll just stick to the beginning of each term.

Important: There are many differences between these periods. Overall employment was smaller in the ’80s, however the participation rate was increasing in the ’80s (younger population and women joining the labor force), and the participation rate is generally declining now. But these graphs give an overview of employment changes. ….

…. A big difference between the presidencies has been public sector employment. Note the bumps in public sector employment due to the decennial Census in 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010. The public sector grew during Mr. Carter’s term (up 1,304,000), during Mr. Reagan’s terms (up 1,414,000), during Mr. G.H.W. Bush’s term (up 1,127,000), during Mr. Clinton’s terms (up 1,934,000), and during Mr. G.W. Bush’s terms (up 1,744,000 jobs). However the public sector has declined significantly since Mr. Obama took office (down 634,000 jobs). These job losses have mostly been at the state and local level, but more recently at the Federal level. This has been a significant drag on overall employment…..

public sector payroll jobs chart