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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Gephardt TV Ad Misleads on Job Loss

A Gephardt ad in Iowa says 'George Bush has lost more jobs since any President since Herbert Hoover.' That's not exactly true.


In a TV ad that aired in Iowa, Dick Gephardt says the President has “lost more jobs than the last 11 Presidents,” which is incorrect. Ronald Reagan lost more jobs than Bush, then got them back. Bush could still do the same.


In a TV ad that aired in Iowa , Gephardt said the President has “lost more jobs than any president since Herbert Hoover. He’s lost more jobs than the last 11 Presidents.” In fact, the economy shed just over 2.7 million payroll jobs in the slump that was underway when the Gephardt ad began airing. That’s 124,000 fewer jobs than were lost than between July, 1981 and December, 1982, when Ronald Reagan was President. And at that time the economy was much smaller.

Gephard Ad: “Jobs”

Gephardt: I’m Dick Gephardt, and I approve this message because I want to stop George Bush and fight for America ‘s middle class.

George Bush has lost more jobs than any president since Herbert Hoover.

He’s lost more jobs than the last 11 presidents. Bush’s budget deficit is almost twice what it was under his father, and 41 million Americans have no health insurance.

Now, another George Bush, another recession.

I believe what’s good for the middle class is good for America. I’ll remember that as president.

The U.S. economy has lost just over 2% percent of the payroll jobs it was generating at the end of the longest boom in American history, which was already weakening in the final months of the Clinton administration. But it lost 3.1% of payroll jobs during the Reagan downturn, which is generally conceded to have been the worst since the Depression.

Most of the Bush job loss came in the months just after he took office, and especially in the wake of September 11, 2001 . The trend was almost flat starting in January, 2002, and turned upward in August.

It now seems likely that Bush will end his term with the economy employing fewer payroll workers than when he took office, according to most projections by private economists. If that happens, Bush’s critics will be able to say correctly that he’s the first since Hoover to have ended an entire term with a net job loss. But it’s premature to say that now. Even Reagan’s bigger job loss was erased less than two years after growth resumed. And several private economists are projecting job gains in the next 12 months that would leave Bush with a net gain in jobs.


Watch Gephardt Ad: “Jobs”