It’s official. President Barack Obama is doing a better job of dealing with unemployment in his first term than Ronald Reagan. Sarah Palin might not believe it — the Alaska Banshee showed up on Fox News last week to warn again that Obama was leading the nation down the road to communism — but there are facts — cold, hard, adamantine facts — to consider.
For all Americans able to read actual graphs, the numbers and the overall trend are quite clear. On February 1, 2009, at the start of Mr. Obama’s first full month in office, unemployment in the United States stood at 8.3%. Today, on its Facebook feed, even Fox News had to admit the rate had fallen to 7.7%.
No doubt right-wingers will go into “damage control” and endeavor to put the worst possible spin on the numbers. In the end, though, their efforts will only be sad. We all know what happened 31 days ago. The polls indicated Barack Obama was going to win. Yet, real numbers could not convince the right that they were being delusional any more than real birth certificates could convince them President Obama had every right to sit in a comfy chair in the White House. Those first five days of November 2012. Those were happy times for the right. Everyone from Dick Morris to Karl Rove to Rush Limbaugh and Anne Romney was predicting that our 45th president was going to be 100% more Mormon and noticeably more white.
Now the right must either crack their skulls on another set of facts or continue to insist facts don’t exist. Unemployment surged during Mr. Obama’s first eight months in office, peaking at 10% in October 2009. From the start of his term to today, however, he has cut the rate six tenths of one percent.
That means the policies of his administration are working.
Thirty years ago, then-President Ronald Reagan had the same kind of difficulty turning an ailing economy around. On February 1, 1981, when he picked up the newspaper to read the funnies, unemployment stood at 7.4%. Job losses soared for sixteen months while he was in office. They soared higher, too, peaking at 10.8% in November 1982. It took Reagan, a man who never saw a tax cut for wealthy Americans he didn’t like, his entire first term to cut into unemployment, so that by January 1985, the rate had fallen to 7.3%, a drop of one tenth of one percent.
Job numbers fluctuate from month to month, of course, and Hurricane Sandy scrambled this month’s data. So the Wall Street Journal warns today against excess optimism (also known as giving President Obama any credit), explaining: “Friday’s release for November will be the least important look at the labor market in about five years.”
Those who rely exclusively on Fox News for information won’t believe it; but that doesn’t mean the unemployment numbers aren’t the lowest since December 2008. The report for this month, the overall trend since October 2009, and evidence from Reagan’s first term all indicate that this is good news for the country.