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I was poking around jobs data tonight, mostly on the BLS web site.

Two of the most commonly reported statistics in the news are the total nonfarm employment and the unemplyment rate. The former has become a major talking point for the Democrats, as Bush took office with a 132.4m nonfarm jobs in January 2001, and there are 131.5m now, which is a net loss.

Although when I look at total civil employment, I see a different story: 143.8m in January 2001, and 147.8m now. Why is nonfarm more important than total?

All of this is seasonally adjusted too, which also doesn't make much sense to me. More questions than answers, I'm afraid.

Regardless, one point that most Democrats have conceded is that Bush did not cause the recession, as he couldn't have: it hit in March 2001. We already had a net job loss for the year by April 2001 (132.2m), and it never came back up.

The recession ended in November 2001. In November 2001, the employment was 130.9m. Again, today, it is 131.5m, which is a clear net gain since the end of the recession.

Yes, I know that somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 people, on average, enter the labor force each month, which is somewhere between 3.5 and 5 million since November 2001. Just to keep up with that, we should have even more than the 132.4m we started with. No doubt. Job growth, while mostly steady (June and July were anemic, August was a little bit low, so we'll what the next month brings), has not been great.

But the point is that if Bush is not to blame for the recession, then it is hard to swallow the line that he is to blame for a net loss of jobs, since there's been a net gain since the end of the recession.

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