Jobs Lost, Jobs Regained

I found myself commenting at The Snark Who Hunts Back a few days ago that the economic stimulus enacted by the federal government worked! Just look at what happened with employment.

Things were going very badly before the stimulus took effect, and got much better while the stimulus was applied. My observation is that we went from losing 500,000 jobs a month to gaining 100,000 a month.

Here is a summary of the pace of job losses and job gains over the last three years. I derived these numbers from the archived employment reports at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Changes in total nonfarm employment 2008–2011
Data from US business establishments, seasonally adjusted



Avg. mo. chg.

Notable events
G. W. Bush

Jan ’08–Jul ’08


Recession begins
G. W. Bush Jul ’08–Jan ’09 –370,000

Lehman Brothers collapse
B. H. Obama

Jan ’09–Jul ’09


ARRA signed
B. H. Obama Jul ’09–Jan ’10 –300,000

Recession ends
B. H. Obama Jan ’10–Jul ’10 80,000

B. H. Obama Jul ’10–Jan ’11 –3,000

Tax cuts extended
B. H. Obama Jan ’11–Jul ’11 140,000

Most of the spending programs and tax breaks of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) were limited to 2009 and 2010. Some of its provisions are still in effect for 2011 and beyond, however.

There’s no way to be sure how many jobs would have been lost or gained without the stimulus. People who consider themselves economic experts will make all kinds of claims about whether there should have been more stimulus or a different kind of stimulus or none at all. I just can’t see how anyone looks at the facts and concludes that the stimulus didn’t work at all.


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