Statement by Dean Baker
October 14, 2004

Snow Job on Jobs

Treasury Secretary Snow Misrepresents Jobs Data

Statement by Dean Baker

For Immediate Release: October 14, 2004

Contact: Debi Kar, 202-387-5080
             Dean Baker, 202-332-5218

WASHINGTON, DC -- Treasury Secretary John Snow misrepresented the record on job growth when he claimed that the economy had created 3.2 million jobs during the Bush administration. Mr. Snow based this claim on the Labor Department's survey of households. The Labor Department's survey of establishments, which is universally accepted by economists as the best measure of job growth, shows that the economy has lost 585,000 jobs since president Bush took office.

The household survey is designed to measure employment and unemployment rates, not job growth, which is why economists do not use it to measure job growth. It is a much smaller survey than the establishment survey, which covers firms employing near one-third of the country's employees each month. The establishment survey is also benchmarked using unemployment insurance filings (which cover more than 99 percent of employees) every year.

Changes in self-employment (a gain of 340,000 during the Bush administration), which are counted in the household survey, but not the establishment survey, do not affect the basic picture.

The job loss in the establishment survey is further supported by payroll tax collections. The growth in payroll taxes (which legally must also be paid by self-employed workers) corresponds almost exactly to the trends in employment, hours and wages shown by the establishment survey. Since the payroll tax data is completely independent of the establishment survey, it provides incontrovertible support for the jobs data in the establishment survey.

In short, there is no serious basis for disputing the job loss data shown by the establishment survey. One can legitimately debate the causes of this job loss and the best path forward, but no credible person can dispute that the economy has shed jobs during President Bush's term in office.