Number of Private Jobs Created By all Past Presidents Combined: Zero

For eight years, I had to endure articles from the Left about all the jobs Obama had created.  Now that the White House has changed hands, it is all the bloggers on the Right breathlessly reporting job creation by Trump and heralding the February job figures (example).  Though the Left is still trying to credit Obama (example)

  1.  Presidents do not create private jobs.  Period.  Even so-called infrastructure spending and stimulus merely take private money from whatever it was being used for previously and applies it to investment projects that politicians want.  Sure, there are new easy to see infrastructure jobs from these projects, but what is also there, largely unseen, are whatever jobs would have been created (or not lost) had the money used for these projects been left to private individuals to spend or invest as they see fit.
  2. Presidents do have long-term effects on prosperity, but these are usually based on regulatory and tax policy that can take years to play out -- not the span of days from January 20 to February.  The main effect government officials can have is negative, by creating drags on private enterprise.  The best they can achieve is generally removal of past negatives.
  3. To the extent individual companies credit Trump with various job growth steps, this is a function of our corporate crony state, not any underlying economic reality.  I have been at the highest levels of Fortune 50 companies (not as an executive but as a consultant and later as executive staff).  Corporations do not suddenly make changes in business strategy and capital investment plans based on elections.  They do make changes based on real changes, e.g. this tax policy was changed or that regulation was changed, none of which has yet occurred.  Of course, they may credit the new President as responsible for certain investments or changed decisions, but this is generally flattery attached to actions that would have happened anyway, or crass calculations meant to garner higher crony status in the future.


  1. ErikTheRed:

    Exactly. The only Presidential candidates I've seen very bluntly come out and say this have been Libertarians. Even Gary Johnson - arguably the only Libertarian candidate that could come off as more annoyingly dumb than Bob Barr - managed to not whiff on this one: "I didn’t create a single job. Don’t get me wrong. We are proud of [New Mexico having a strong job creation record under his governorship]. We had a 11.6 percent job growth that occurred during our two terms in office. But the headlines that accompanied that report – referring to governors, including me, as ‘job creators’ – were just wrong. The fact is, I can unequivocally say that I did not create a single job while I was governor,. We kept government in check, the budget balanced, and the path to growth clear of unnecessary regulatory obstacles. (...) My priority was to get government out of the way, keep it out of the way, and allow hard-working New Mexicans, entrepreneurs and businesses to fulfill their potential. That’s how government can encourage job growth, and that’s what government needs to do today.”

  2. MJ:

    I would add that for those who wish to attribute short-term job gains to whomever the current president is, they would also need to account for the presence of Congress (who is actually responsible for proposing and passing legislation). This a problem for those pushing a partisan narrative as divided government is often the norm, with Congress either being ideologically split between houses and/or ideologically opposed to the president. Add in the mixed effects of 50 state and countless more local units of government, each of whom administers or otherwise contributes to policy, and you've got an untenable narrative.

  3. L in seattle:

    I agree that President's themselves don't create jobs however they sure can destroy jobs. Just look at what burdensome regulation has done for employment and businesses. Warren has written extensively about the negative effects on his own company's hiring practices, laying people off and so forth.
    Bottom line is Trump should be able to take credit for creating a more business friendly environment.

  4. J_W_W:

    I think this way of thinking hampers Libertarians and Republicans. Because while they claim to create no jobs when they are in office, when the Progressive alternative is in office regulatory burdens skyrocket and job growth is actively killed.

    So they should at least take credit for not being destructive....

  5. ErikTheRed:

    Pretty sure that's what Johnson was doing in his statement: he's taking credit for helping to keep government out of the way. Despite his abysmal performance as a Presidential candidate, he did a very decent job of that as governor in a very blue state.

    Frankly, the entire framing of the debate is wrong. Jobs are created naturally in free markets, because people value things subjectively and there is always some good or service that one group values more highly than another person or group can produce it for. This is an infinite process - no matter how wealthy a society becomes, people always want more. The stuff everyone is arguing over these days would be considered Caligula-level luxurious indulgence just a century or two ago. The Bernie Sanders crowd is upset about income inequality, but even if we lived in a sci-fi Star Trek universe where all basic material goods can be made instantly at zero cost and we all lived lives of leisure and only worked if we wanted to, then they'd be complaining that something like some people being able to catch more Pokemon than others. Pokemon inequality would generate mass outrage.

    If you don't have enough jobs, the questions need to be reframed as what is getting in the way of creating them.

  6. J_W_W:

    You've got a Charizard!?!? NO FAIR. Check your poke privilege!!

  7. marque2:

    Presidents can change the mood of the nation. As soon as Trump was.elected the optimism numbers skyrocketed and Trumps actions have led people and businesses to continue to feel optimism about the future. This is leading to hiring even though the president hasn't done much yet.

    But really, he has through executive order already cut regulations which companies are banking on.

    You have pointed out yourself when companies feel the government will crack down on them with minimum wage hikes and Obama care and morenregukatikn, they will make plans years in advance of the actual event. You yourself restructured your employees for obamacare. Now that Trump is inspiring people to believe there will be less regulation, less crime and less problems with terrorisrm/illegals, they are making bets well in advance of the actual deregulation. If they wait until it actually happens they will lose out.

    Sorry, don't but your thesis at all.

  8. marque2:

    Trumps immigration order wasn't half baked. Very rational and legal. It is the left wing judges who rule by feeling and partisanship rather than rule of law that caused the problem. As for a few people being detained a few hours on he first day who had green cards it happens - it wouldn't be the first time the government detained someone for a small amount of time.

    Yes I know you elites in your gated mansions, don't see any problems with immigration, you look out the window and don't see any crime, terrorism, but then the rest of us middle class have to suffer. No problem for the establishment elite.

  9. me:

    And that in a nutshell is why I'd badly want President Warren Meyer. Pretty please?
    As an added bonus, I suspect even if you went and spend all your weekends lodging in your businesses, that wouldn't blow the federal deficit up too much ;)