Where the Job Growth Really Is

Steven Rattner, former investment banker and President Obama’s car czar, is a must-watch when he brings his charts to “Morning Joe,” where he serves as an economic analyst.

He brought some much-needed perspective on Monday morning, as the kerfuffle about President Obama’s comment that the private sector was “doing fine” continues to flare.  (You can watch Rattner’s video here, about two minutes in.)

First, Rattner said, we’re still about five million jobs short of where we were at the beginning of the recession in December 2007, but we’ve picked up 2.5 million jobs since the recession ended in July 2009 and 3.8 million since the job market bottomed in March 2010.

The last number is the one the Obama administration uses, as in 27 consecutive months of job growth and 4.3 million private sector jobs created.

The loss of 500,000 public sector jobs—mostly in state and local governments since then—is what has put a bee in the president’s bonnet and led to that gaffe last Friday.

Then Rattner showed that job creation under President Obama is slightly above that of George W. Bush by -0.4%, vs. -0.8%, but both are pretty bad. Even George H.W. Bush did better, with 1.4% job growth, and he got booted from office.

Bill Clinton, of course, was the Muhammad Ali of recent presidents in this area, as job creation soared by 8.3%.

Health, education, professional & business services grew jobs fastest. Source: Steven Rattner/Morning Joe/MSNBC

But the most interesting thing Rattner showed was that the sectors with the strongest job growth under President Obama were—may we have a drumroll, please?—professional and business services and education and health services.

Since the end of the recession, professional and business services have added 1.37 million jobs and health and educational services tacked on 1,128,000 jobs. The two industries comprise two-thirds of all new private-sector jobs that came into being during that time.

Well, guess what? As I wrote in my column last week, professional and business services and education and health care were massive job-creating engines under both Presidents Clinton and Bush.

Under President Clinton, nearly three million jobs were created in health care and education and a whopping five million in business and professional services. Two million jobs were created in each area under President George W. Bush.

That’s remarkably consistent under all three presidents, which shows that policy probably doesn’t matter much here—either the high-tax, deficit-cutting policies of President Clinton, the supply-side tax cuts of President Bush, or the various stimulus policies of President Obama.

Jobs are created where the economy is growing, and health, education and professional and business services are where the action has been for two decades. It probably wouldn’t change much under a President Romney, either, no matter what he did.

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