President Obama’s critics have consistently used the talking point that he is “only creating government jobs.” They argue that the private sector has been significantly hampered by his presidency and that most of the job growth under his administration has been in the public sector. The most famous iteration of this argument came in a 2012 roundtable debate on ABC News when Senator Rand Paul and economist Paul Krugman engaged in a heated debate on the sources of job growth under Obama.
Data on job growth contradict this point. Since Obama assumed office in January 2009, government employment has fallen 3.0 percent; private-sector employment, by contrast, has risen 7.7 percent. This is significantly different than the track record of his predecessor, George W. Bush, under whose presidency government employment expanded 8.4 percent while private-sector employment fell 0.4 percent:
In fact, the entirety of Bush’s “job creation”—total nonfarm employment rose 1.0 percent under his presidency—is due to the growth of government employment. By contrast, through the first 6.5 years of Obama’s presidency (and the number will surely increase over the next year and a half) nonfarm employment has grown 5.9 percent. And given that public-sector employment has actually fallen since he assumed office, over 100 percent of this job growth has been in the private sector.