Mark points to this FRED graph, throws on an exponential trend line, and notes: "The party ended in 2000." I prefer to look at exponential growth on a log scale - it makes it easier for my aging, bifocal-laden eyes to see what's really happening. See for yourself. (Unfortunately, you have to click the green drop-down pointer next to "Graph " click the "log scale" box, and then scroll down and click "Redraw Graph." Go ahead. It's fun!)
It's tempting to throw a straight line from about 1945 to 2000 and simply agree with Mark. However, while I don't disagree with Mark, there is more to the story, and I think it's worth telling.
I've drawn straight green lines peak to peak, and color coded Presidential Administrations red and blue. Connecting the dots this way gives us not a straight line, but an "S" curve. It's no illusion. Here are the slopes of the line segments.
Time Slope (Y-axis units/Mo.)
11/1/43 -- 2/1/57 .00135
4/1/60 -- 3/1/70 .00223
3/1/70 -- 3/1/80 .00201
3/1/80 -- 6/1/90 .00153
6/1/90 -- 2/1/01 .00147
2/1/01 -- 1/1/08 .00049
Most economic graphs show the Clinton administration bucking the slow, agonizing death-trend of the America we think we know and love. Here, though, all Billy-Bob could do was come close to holding the line. Shrub, on the other hand, was able to come even closer to totally killing job growth in America, from his very first day in office - what an awesome accomplishment!
B. Hoover Obama might be the first president since his early depression-era namesake to give us negative job growth. What an accomplishment that would be, as well! Alas, though, more awful than awesome. Here is a close-up view of recent history, if you can stand to look at it. Even getting back to the anemic Shrub-era trend line looks like a forlorn hope at this point.
Yes, the party ended in 2000. But all the good wine was consumed 40 or 50 years ago, and we've been swilling dregs and Ripple for decades, all the while deluding ourselves that it was Château Gloria.
We've been hung over for at least three years now, and someday and we'll realize what chumps we've been - the whole party has been at our expense! Sadly, waking up penniless and face-down in the gutter is not a good way to start a decade.
Update: After I finished the post, I got to wondering if BHO might really be (potentially) the first Prez to accomplish negative job growth over his term - after all, Poppy was pretty horrible. Turns out, he actually added almost 23,000 jobs. Over the course of a full four years. That's how Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad it was. But at least it wasn't negative!
Here's another way to look at it. I calculated a 4-Yr rate of change by taking a running twelve month average, subtracting the value of 48 months previous, and dividing the difference by the previous value to get a percentage.
I look at that trend channel and weep. Things might get better someday, but between now and then, things are going to get a hell of a lot worse.