Who had the more impressive numbers in terms of jobs creation: President Obama or President Trump? This question is non-trivial. For a number of reason.
Take first the superficially-simple comparative:
- On a y/y basis, average monthly change in total non-farm payrolls under the last 28 months of President Obama Administration was 2,704,000 using non-seasonally-adjusted data. For the first 28 months of the Trump Administration, the same figure was 2,394,000. So by this metric, things were better under Obama Administration last 28 months in office.
- The caveat to the above is that as jobs numbers grow, each consecutive period, new additions of jobs should be harder and harder to come up with, especially during the mature period of the expansion cycle. In other words, after some number of quarters of economic recovery, creating more new jobs gets harder, primarily because the pool of potential employees to be hired into jobs shrinks. So, adjusting Obama figures and Trump figures for this, we can use rate of change in 28 months averages. This is not easy to do, because we do not have consecutive 28 months periods of first rising, then falling jobs additions averages for any period, except for the 1990s. Back then, jobs creation first run at 483,000 monthly average in 1991-1993, 3,124,000 in 1993-1995, 2,889,000 in 1996-1998 and 3,080,000 in 1998-2000. So within upside cycle, the net decline in jobs creation was between 1.74% and 7.2%. Applying these to Obama Administration’s peak jobs creation rate over any 28 months period gives us the rate of Obama Administration cycle-adjusted jobs creation of between 2,509,150 and 2,656,775 - both of these figures are higher than the raw numbers for the Trump Administration’s first 28 months in office.
- In monthly average jobs creation measured on m/m basis, Obama Administration’s last 28 months in offer yielded 128,000 monthly jobs additions on average. The Trump Administration’s comparable figure is 294,000, vastly outpacing Obama Administration’s record. This means that, in total, during the Obama Administration last 28 months in office, the U.S. economy has created net 2,527,000. In Trump’s Administration 28 months in office, the economy generated 7,206,000 jobs.
- The above figures, however, is heavily weighted against the last 28 Obama Administration period due to the final two months of the period coinciding with heavily seasonality-related effects (December and January effects). Controlling for seasonality effects, Obama Administration comparable net jobs creation over that period was 7,139,000 against Trump’s 7,206,000.
- Finally, looking at the entire jobs cycle, as illustrated in the chart below:
Note, I consider the period of Obama Administration with sustained jobs creation - a sort of
‘jobs creation upside cycle’ that started in March 2011. Based on this comparative, Obama Administration did outperform Trump Administration so far into the latter tenure in office (see steeper slope in the trend line for Obama Administration, and flatter slope for Trump Administration.
Draw your own conclusions out of all of this, but there are my top level ones:
- Whilst it is other daft to argue whether one Administration was able to ‘create’ more jobs than the other - the comparatives are a bit too sensitive to differences in economic environments and yearly cycles, overall, Obama Administration’s last 28 months in office seem to have been creating comparable number of jobs to the Trump Administration’s first 28 months in office.
- Trump Administration has seen more substantial monthly increases than Obama Administration did, but annually, Obama Administration outperformed Trump Administration in this comparative.
- In overall terms, jobs creation remained similar across both Administrations to-date, once we adjust for skewed seasonality effects, but Obama Administration appears to have outperformed the Trump Administration over the cycle of jobs expansion.