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On July “Volatility”

August 7th, 2004

One of the Bush apologists coming to comment on this site, remarking on the dismal May-July job numbers, tried to fob off the slump to the idea that July is a “volatile” month; specifically, he wrote: “HINT: July is typically a very volitile month for employment numbers.”

This is what comes from believing everything you hear from the Bush administration and right-wing econopundits. The idea that we are gaining more and more jobs, and it’s just that July is traditionally volatile, so we’ll jump back up in August–it’s a pipe dream, no more and no less. First, volatility goes both ways: it might get you numbers lower than are real, but it also might get you numbers higher than are real. Second, whether or not a month is often volatile is no guarantee that the numbers for this July were actually volatile. In other words, it’s all just blowing smoke.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

I went to the web site of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found a page with all the job data since 1994. I then copied that into Excel, translated the table to columnar form, and then started banging out charts. Here’s the first, and most relevant to the topic at hand–job growth figures for 2004:

What’s the first thing you see? It’s glaringly obvious: a spike in March, which then declines in a nice, steady curve up through July. That ain’t no blip you see in July, and it’s not volatility–it is a smooth, regular trend. In fact, if you see this as a straight-line trend rather than a curving one, then July’s numbers should have been lower, suggesting that volatility made the July numbers appear higher than they should have been. It is possible that with next month’s report, we may see July’s numbers revised downward.

So much for the Bush jobs surge, and so much for Bush-favoring “volatility.”

I figured that I had done all this work to get the chart made, let’s look at a few others. Here’s one that shows job growth during the entire Bush presidency:

Here’s where we see the overall job loss during the Bush Jr. years. Note how the numbers seem to have been trying to go up in mid-2002? See how they sputtered and began falling again? That’s where the job recovery should have been. And that’s where it would have been, had Bush not done everything wrong. And if you add all those positive and (mostly) negative numbers together, you’ll see where those 1.1 million jobs disappeared to.

But to get a real feel for how Bush anemia has stacked up against the Clinton job juggernaut, look at this chart:

Blue is total number of jobs under Clinton, red is total number of jobs under Bush. There’s really no contest at all, is there?

You want jobs? Good jobs? Well-paying jobs? Or heck, even any job at all?

Vote for Kerry.

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  1. August 10th, 2004 at 01:31 | #1

    Another interesting fact to add to all the job data are the types of jobs we’ve lost and gained under the Bush administration.

    Losing 400,000 manufacturing or white-collar techincal jobs and replacing them with 500,000 service-industry jobs equates to a total gain of 100,000 jobs. The math is undeniable, but it’s misleading. It doesn’t say that most of the people working these jobs are only doing so because they couldn’t find anything else and are now making half what they did before. No longer able to spend money to keep the economy moving, barely making house payments, etc.

    At this point, i think the administration is lucky people are mostly lazy and unwilling to take the next step in information gathering.

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