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Those who criticize the president for failing to improve the economy focus on jobs and jobs alone. But, how about the stock market? In 2008, the Dow Jones Industrial Average bottomed out at 6,547, after losing more than half its value in just two years during the Bush meltdown. Over half of Americans owned stock either directly or through 401K plans, mutual funds and other investments. They were devastated as they saw their retirement plans tank. Today, the DJIA stands at over 13,500, doubling in value during President Obama’s term.
Do we still have economic problems? Is the unemployment rate still too high? Yes, of course. But, according to Bloomberg News, hardly a liberal source, more jobs have now been created than lost since President Barack Obama took office, preliminary revisions to the U.S. payroll count showed. The number of jobs created in the year ended in March was revised upward by 386,000, the Labor Department said in Washington. If that estimate is confirmed in the final report, it would wipe out the 261,000 employment deficit spanning January 2009 to last month that is currently on the books and mean the U.S. has created a net 125,000 jobs since Obama was inaugurated.
The Romney campaign loves to highlight that unemployment has been above 8 percent during the president’s entire term, as if there has been no improvement. But, let’s look at the true picture. When the president took office, unemployment was at 7.8 percent and on a steep upward trajectory from the last two years of Bush’s administration, spiraling upward from 4.6 percent thanks to the Republicans. The rate peaked at about 10 percent in mid-2009 and has been falling ever since. So, the president has reduced unemployment by about 2 percent, which is what Romney promises to do. It is also worthwhile to recognize that unemployment averaged nearly 10 percent over two years of Reagan’s administration (1982-1983) and over 8 percent during one year in Ford’s term (1975). And they were not trying to deal with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
I realize that reason is not part of the political discourse this election. But, let’s try to look at the whole economy, not just the portion that the Republicans want us to focus on.