Article 1: Comparing Government Employment Under Bush and Obama

Objective: Dispel The Myth That Government Employment Grew Significantly Under Obama


This is the first post in a series of “articles” relating to political facts, or perhaps more pointedly, to dispelling “alternative facts” that are quoted so readily. I originally created this graph as part of a response to a post on Facebook, which I have also shared there. I’m adding it as a post here, perhaps with a bit more context. This post compares All Government Employment (seasonally adjusted) under Bush and Obama by months in office (Hint: Obama’s government employment numbers end up lower). The data for the graph below can be found at FRED. I’ve also put a copy of my Excel SS used to create this graph on Dropbox.

I was asked on FB to post these numbers extracting military personnel. My guess at the logic of the question is the belief a bigger military is better and that the military was much larger under Bush, which is why his numbers are higher. Here’s my response:

Sadly, FRED does not track military personnel, you have to get those numbers from the DoD. Having said that, there are many ways to slice military personnel data but if you look just at Active Duty personnel (because those numbers are easiest to find and compare), the deltas are very small (a good graph can be found here). AD numbers from Sept 2000 to Sept 2016 are all between 1.13M (lowest) and 1.43M (highest – which was Sept 2010 under Obama!). This is a difference of 300,000 and would only change any of the numbers in this graph by +/- 300. Even if you subtracted 300 from Bush’s final number it would be a little larger than Obama’s. The point of this graph is to clearly dispel the myth that government employment grew significantly under Obama, which it didn’t (other than the 1 time spike of part-time workers for the production of the Census, which is required by the Article 1, Section 2 of the United States Constitution).


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