Employment and GDP Growth by US President

Unless you willingly prefer to ignore reality, you likely know that politics is intricately connected with the investment banking world. Let’s take a look at employment growth by U.S. president since 1948. Unsurprisingly, employment growth expanded the strongest during the Clinton and Reagan administrations.

Employment Growth

During the Clinton administration, employment grew by a little over 20 percent. The Reagan administration places second at about 17 percent. Fast-forwarding to the two most recent administrations, things do not look nearly as bright.

During the George W. Bush’s administration (Bush II), the employment picture expanded by a couple of percentage points.  The Bush II administration was hindered by two recessions – the bursting of the technology bubble and the global financial crisis.

Following the George W. Bush’s administration, the Obama administration’s experience has been just as weak (weaker if you solve for trend growth). President Obama came into office about in the middle of the 2008/2009 recession.  Since bottoming out early in his second year of office, the U.S. economy has slowly added jobs, only recently gaining a little bit stronger pace after four years of anemic growth. Overall, if the current administration is lucky, it could see employment growth a little bit better than the Eisenhower administration (thanks to the weakness in the last year of the Eisenhower administration).


GDP Growth

Switching to GDP, here is a look at GDP growth by U.S. president. Unsurprisingly given the performance of employment during their presidencies, GDP expanded the strongest during the Clinton and Reagan administrations. During the Clinton Administration, GDP grew by about 35 percent. During the Reagan Administration, GDP expanded by about 30 percent.

Fast forward to the two most recent administrations and again, things look relatively poor. At this point in his presidency (6 years), GDP was up about 16 percent during the George W. Bush’s Administration. Through the 6 years of the Obama Administration, GDP is up about 13 percent.

Where did the growth go in the past 15 years?



Overall, the investment banking universe is intricately connected with the political world.  Always has been, and likely always will be. In looking at the performance of the economy – as measured by jobs – by U.S. President, it does not look very good for the most recent administrations. If the economy is able to survive another two years without a hiccup in the overall employment picture (probably unlikely), the Obama administration might make it to third worst since 1948 (for 2 full-term serving presidents).

A third worst performance would put the Obama administration far behind the employment growth experienced during the Clinton and Reagan years and about in line with what happened during the Bush II years if one excludes the global financial crisis.

When switching from the employment picture to the GDP picture, not a whole lot changes.  The Reagan and Clinton years were the best, and the two most recent administrations saw uncharacteristically slow GDP growth.

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