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Speaking about the economy recently on the campaign trail, President Obama stated, “We tried our plan and it worked.” Yet new data released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirm that the president is living in an alternate reality if he truly believes that statement.

The Reagan recovery began in November 1982 with the end of the early 1980s recession. Through the first 37 months of that recovery, 9.817 million nonfarm jobs were added to the American economy. That represented a solid 11.06 percent change in total nonfarm employment.

Meanwhile, President Obama has overseen a far different recovery beginning in June 2009 that has now lasted for 37 months. Over that time period, a mere 2.742 million jobs have been added, a 2.1 percent change. Supporters of the president are likely to tout July’s gain of 163,000 in total nonfarm employment. However, an alternative measure, the employment level, dropped by 195,000; that drop was the largest decline in the employment level since June 2011. Even the 163,000 increase in total nonfarm payrolls is less than the gain of 168,000 that occurred at the equivalent point in the Reagan recovery, December 1985.

In enacting the stimulus, President Obama’s administration claimed to be taking actions that would hold the unemployment rate below 8 percent. However, July was the 41st consecutive month with unemployment above that level; the situation is entirely unprecedented in American history. Unemployment actually increased in July to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent. By contrast, the unemployment rate under President Reagan in December 1985 was 7.0 percent. July’s hike in joblessness occurred even as the labor force shrunk and the labor force participation rate continued to fall steadily as it has throughout the Obama administration.

The failure of President Obama’s economic policies has left his administration grasping at straws in an effort to put a positive spin on what is clearly less than encouraging data. White House Economist Alan Krueger wrote today that the July BLS report shows that “It is critical that we continue the policies” that have led to what he calls the “progress of the last few years.” Yet historical data tells us clearly that 41 straight months of unemployment over 8 percent and average monthly job growth of only 67,000 over a so-called recovery are not progress. Any American who remembers the Reagan recovery or glances at the numbers knows the nation can do better. 

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