Maybe the Private Sector IS Doing Fine

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Joe Weisenthal of Business Insider has assembled a 24-slide show to illustrate what President Obama meant when he infamously said the private sector is "doing fine." Below are the three key graphs. They don't change the fact that, obviously, the private sector has a ways to go before its recovery is complete. But they're powerful enough to make me wonder: What if Obama, rather than just try to walk back his unfortunate choice of words, trotted out some visual aids and spent 60 seconds explaining exactly what he meant? 'Professorial' can be a feature, not a bug.

The first graph illustrates that, since the end of Obama's first year in office, private sector employment has indeed recovered steadily and is now back to where it was when he took office--around 111 million jobs.

JobsPriv.JPG

Unfortunately, the growth in private sector employment has been counteracted by a drop in public sector employment. This is the graph for state and local government jobs:

JobsStateLocal.JPG


The final graph adds federal jobs to state and local jobs to get the number for total public sector employment. (Presumably that spike mainly reflects hiring for the census.)

JobsUSGovt.JPG

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Robert Wright is the author of, most recently, the New York Times bestseller The Evolution of God and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic. More

Wright is also a fellow at the New America Foundation and editor in chief of Bloggingheads.tv. His other books include Nonzero, which was named a New York Times Book Review Notable Book in 2000 and included on Fortune magazine's list of the top 75 business books of all-time. Wright's best-selling book The Moral Animal was selected as one of the ten best books of 1994 by The New York Times Book Review.Wright has contributed to The Atlantic for more than 20 years. He has also contributed to a number of the country's other leading magazines and newspapers, including: The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, Time, and Slate, and the op-ed pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Financial Times. He is the recipient of a National Magazine Award for Essay and Criticism and his books have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

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