Fact check: Has Biden 'created more jobs in his first 7 months' than any president?

Posted September 23, 2021 1:37 p.m. EDT
Updated September 23, 2021 4:51 p.m. EDT

In recent months, many people have returned to work, but the pace of new jobs hasn’t quite matched expectations as the delta variant has sent hospitals reeling with new cases.

So, the performance of the economy has been closely watched.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee on Sept. 3, 2021 took to Twitter to credit President Joe Biden with a historic upturn in the number of new jobs:

"President Biden has created more jobs in his first 7 months than any POTUS in history. During a pandemic. And an economic downturn. President Biden’s leadership is helping America bounce back and our economy recover. Democrats will continue moving us forward."

For the purpose of this fact-check, we’re going to focus on the first part of that tweet -- that Biden has created more jobs than any other president in his first seven months in office.

Is it true? And should Biden get the credit -- as Moore frames it -- for that increase.

Steep increase in jobs because of reopening businesses, vaccines

When asked for backup for the claim, Moore’s staff sent us two links: the Sept. 3, 2021 economic update from the Joint Economic Committee, issued the day of Moore’s tweet, and data compiled by Federal Reserve Economic Data, which pulls its information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

First, let’s look at how many jobs have been created in 2021, starting in February, the first full month of Biden’s presidency, using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

February: 536,000 new jobs

March: 785,000

April: 269,000

May: 614,000

June: 962,000

July: 1.1 million

August (latest month available): 235,000

That all adds up to about 4.5 million net new jobs added since Biden was sworn in.

And that number is higher than any other president since the end of World War II, said Sophia Koropeckyj, managing director for Moody’s Analytics. Here’s a breakdown of job growth (or loss) for the first seven months for those presidents, with the year their terms began:

Joe Biden, 2021: gain of 4,454,000

Jimmy Carter, 1977: 2,385,000

Richard Nixon, 1969: 1,569,000

Bill Clinton, 1993: 1,412,000

Donald Trump, 2017: 1,312,000

Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963: 964,000

George H.W. Bush, 1989: 959,000

John F. Kennedy, 1961: 615,000

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953: 345,000

George W. Bush, 2001: - 670,000

Ronald Reagan, 1981: -701,000

Gerald Ford, 1974: -1,971,000

Harry Truman, 1945: -2,450,000

Barack Obama, 2009: -3,570,000

So, Biden does top the list.

But in making the claim, Moore gave all the credit to Biden, when -- in reality -- many other factors are at work. In short, experts say too much credit -- and blame -- goes to presidents, governors and mayors for things out of their control.

"The increase in jobs is explained by the reopening of businesses and government and schools following shutdowns in 2020 due to the pandemic," said Koropeckyj of Moody’s. "Favorable fiscal policies have helped."

To be sure, Biden did sign the American Rescue Act, in March 2021, a massive stimulus plan that provided checks to all Americans, extended unemployment and expanded child tax credits.But much of the money meant to help states and businesses is still being distributed, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, so it’s hard to judge what impact that spending has had on the overall economy and jobs.

In any case, the job growth began before Biden took office.

There had been monthly increases from May through November of 2020, followed by a drop in December 2020, then an increase of 233,000 jobs in January 2021. That’s evidence the economy was getting back on track before Biden did anything.

Presidents -- and other top officials -- love to measure their success by the success of the economy.

But experts have long cautioned that though presidents hold a powerful position, they don’t really dictate the economy.

For instance, Biden inherited an economy that was beginning to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and with vaccinations about to roll out for millions of Americans. With more people vaccinated and able to move about more freely, more money was being spent. That increased demand and the need for workers. And with vaccinations available, more went back to work.

In short, how you do as president depends a lot on where you start.

When you take office at the bottom of a recession with high unemployment numbers, you "achieve" a lot of growth as the economy heals, according to a Jan. 17, 2017 article in the New York Times. When you take office with a low level of unemployment and more job growth, there is often nowhere to go but down.

PolitiFact rating

PolitiFact: Half-true

Moore claimed that Biden has "created more jobs in his first 7 months than any POTUS in history."

As is typical with such claims, Moore is on target with the numbers -- though, we’d note the increase in jobs began before Biden took office -- but gives too much credit to Biden for his role in something that is largely out of his control.

Our definition for Half True is: "The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context.

That fits here.

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