Friday, December 02, 2016
This is the first Friday of the month and all economic data geeks know that monthly labor force data was released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This includes the headline unemployment rate number that most of the business news keys off of. So today the national unemployment rate dropped to 4.6% which is the lowest it has been since in 2007.
Something I’ve always wanted to do, and I am sure others have done this – though I can’t find quite the same graphic out there. How has the national unemployment changed over the course of recent presidential administrations. Since 1948 there have been 12 presidents. Truman was of course already in office in 1948, and Obama’s term is not quite over. Of those 12, if you look at literally the month they took office (usually January data of the respective year) to the January they left office (or other months were history intervened) I have graphed the trends. 6 presidents saw the unemployment rate decrease over the course of their administration. 5 presidents say the unemployment rate increase. 6 + 5 = 11 so the 12th. President Carter’s administration both began and ended at 7.5% unemployment, so no change.
Here is what I get, and I've split gainers and decliners into two graphs for presentation:
Caveats as always. I've included the inauguration, or other form of transition, month in both the beginning or ending of each time series. The bigger question is whether it is fair to attribute - implicit in this type of graphic - unemployment rate changes to a particular president in the first few months of their administration. They say the American economy is more cruise ship than speed boat, which means it take a long time to turn. Probably fairer to redo these graphs based on a 6 month lag to the month of taking office. Maybe for another day.