FactCheck.org Hits Obama Campaign for 'Inflated' Jobs Claims (by Over 4 Million)

Although it should have used harsher language in its headline, FactCheck.org, the Annenberg Foundation-funded outfit, has apparently set its leftist bias aside long enough to take shots at an ad narrated by President Barack Obama which claims 5.2 million jobs created and gives all but the most alert viewers the impression that the number represents those created during his entire administration. Perhaps predictably, the item, which was at the top at Yahoo News just a few hours ago, is not on the home page of Yahoo's U.S. home page and is on the verge of falling off at its main page.

Excerpts from Brooks Jackson's writeup follow the jump, including FactCheck's review of claims made at the "learn more" web link mentioned in the ad (bolds are mine):

Obama’s Inflated Jobs Claim

In a new TV ad, President Obama makes an inflated claim to have added 5.2 million new jobs. The total added during his time in office is actually about 325,000.

In the ad, the president says “over 5 million new jobs” while the figure “5.2 million” appears on screen. But that’s a doubly misleading figure.

Viewers would need to pay close attention to the on-screen graphic to know that the ad refers only to employment gains starting in March 2010, omitting the 4.3 million jobs that were lost in the first year of Obama’s term.

And there’s no way a viewer would know that the total counts only private-sector jobs, omitting continuing losses in government employment.

According to the most recent employment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy has eked out a net gain of 325,000 jobs since January 2009, when Obama took office. And that’s giving credit for roughly 386,000 jobs that the BLS has announced, on a preliminary basis, that it will be adding to this year’s employment totals next year, as a result of its routine annual “benchmarking” analysis.

Looking only at private-sector jobs, it’s true that the total has risen just under 5.2 million since February 2010 — provided that credit is given for roughly 453,000 private-sector jobs to be added next year through the BLS benchmarking process. But over Obama’s entire term, those private-sector jobs have gone up only 967,000, even counting benchmarking additions.

... viewers who follow the ad’s invitation to visit an Obama website for further information will find some false and misleading claims. There, the campaign, for example, states that “Mitt Romney criticized the end of the Iraq war as ‘tragic,’ and has offered no plan withdraw our troops from Afghanistan.” In fact, as we’ve reported before, Romney did not call the end of the Iraq war “tragic.” He used that word to describe the president’s pace of troop withdrawal, not ending a war. And more important, there is no longer any difference between Romney’s position and Obama’s plan to pull all U.S. combat troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

The main flaw in Jackson's analysis is that he didn't look at changes in the number of people who are self-employed since Obama took office. This is relevant because the figures the Obama campaign cites are payroll jobs identified in phone calls to employers. During the March 2010 to September 2012 period about which Team Obama brags (found by making appropriate data retrieval selections at Table A-8 at the Bureau of Labor Statistics), total seasonally adjusted unincorporated self-employment per the government's Household Survey has dropped by 295,000 (140,000 in agriculture and 155,000 in all other lines of work). Since Obama took office, the equivalent drop-pff is 112,000 by (132,000 in agriculture minus a 20,000 pickup elsewhere).

The main flaw in the article's headline is its use of the word "inflated." Exaggerating by a few hundred thousand is inflated; overstating by over 4 million -- something which as noted earlier only alert viewers could catch (if there's an equivalent radio ad, it obviously wouldn't be caught at all) -- is engaging in flat-out falsehood and fantasy.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Campaigns & Elections 2012 Presidential Economy Unemployment Foreign Policy Afghanistan Government Agencies Media Bias Debate Labeling Online Media Yahoo! Fact-checking fact-checkers Brooks Jackson Barack Obama Mitt Romney

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