Does it really matter who is President of the United States? Well, when talking about job creation, maybe it does. The first graph below is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and shows how many total jobs were created under each Democratic President since World War II. The first term for each Democratic President is colored light blue while the second term is colored dark blue on the graph.
We arrived at these numbers by subtracting the total number of non-farm payroll employees employed in February of the first year of a Presidential term (the first full month of the term) from the February after the term ended. For example, for Clinton's first term we used the total number of payroll employees who had jobs in February 1997 minus those employed in February 1993. (from www.bls.gov)**
Figure 2 uses the same method to show the total number of non-farm payroll jobs created while a Republican was President. Again, the first term is colored light red and the second term is dark red. (Source)
Obviously, this is not a perfect comparison, since far fewer people were alive in the United States when Harry Truman was president than when George W. Bush was president. A more accurate comparison would be the proportional increase in non-farm payroll jobs, calculated by dividing the total number of jobs by the end of each term by total number of jobs in the beginning of each term. Figure 3 below is the proportional increase in jobs while a Democrat was President.
And Figure 4 shows the proportional increase in jobs while a Republican was President.
From these first four graphs it appears obvious that more jobs were created, on average, while Democrats were in the oval office than under Republicans. In fact, the total number of jobs created under the six Democratic Presidents was 59.6 million jobs in eight terms. The six Republican Presidents saw only 34 million jobs created during nine Presidential terms.
The proportional increases in jobs showed a similar trend. The average percent non-farm payroll employees increased while a Democrat was president was 10.2% per term. Republicans saw only an average 4.7% growth in employment during each of their terms
Now these numbers are for total non-farm payroll jobs. What about private sector jobs? You often hear that Republicans favor the private sector while Democrats create jobs by expanding the government. Is this true?
One way to find out is to just show the total number of private sector jobs created under each President. Figure 5 below shows the number of private sector jobs created while a Democrat was President. Again, each president's first term is colored light blue while the second term is dark blue.
Figure 6 shows the number of private sector jobs created under Republican Presidents.
And again, the proportional increase in private sector jobs under Democratic Presidents (Figure 7).
Versus the Proportional increase in private sector jobs under Republican Presidents. (Figure 8)
From the above graphs you can see that, somewhat unexpectedly, the advantage Democratic Presidents had in job creation increased when just looking at the private sector. The total number of private sector jobs created during the eight terms a Democrat was President was 52.6 million. That's an average of a 10.6% increase in private sector jobs each term a Democrat was President.
In contrast, the total number of private sector jobs created during all nine terms a Republican was President was only 25.1 million. That's an average of a 4.1% increase in private sector job growth for each Republican term. Put another way; Republicans, not Democrats, were more likely to create jobs by expanding the government.
Now, the data presented here isn't 100% clear cut. For example, even though the Democrats did better overall then the Republican Presidents, Truman and Obama didn't have stellar first terms and Reagan's second term went pretty well. Still, Democratic Presidents saw 75% more total job creation and over twice as much private sector job creation in eight terms as Republican Presidents saw in nine terms!
I'd call that a blowout by any standard. You can argue that the President isn't in complete control of the job market so they shouldn't get all the credit (or blame) for job creation (even though they do). Even so, it's very hard to look at the numbers presented in this section and not conclude that the Democrats must be doing something to stimulate job creation when they're in the White House.