Economic snapshot | Budget Taxes and Public Investment

The Recovery Act worked

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By Ross Eisenbrey

It is appalling to hear conservative critics of President Obama claim that his policies — in particular the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — have failed because unemployment remains so high and the 8 million jobs lost in the recession have not been replaced. The conservative policies put in place during 8 years of the Bush administration wrecked the economy, helped drive it into the deepest recession in 70 years and caused that unemployment. The figure tracks monthly job losses before and after the Recovery Act.

The recession began in December 2007, during George Bush’s 7th year in office.  By the time President Obama was inaugurated, 4.4 million jobs had been lost, and by the time the Recovery Act was passed, 5.9 million jobs had been lost.  As the figure makes clear, the job losses that were accelerating before the Recovery Act was passed have been virtually eliminated.

We must not forget the enormity of the damage done to the economy before the Recovery Act.  From December 2007 to March 2009, one out of every twenty private sector jobs was eliminated, a rate of destruction 50% greater than even the severe recession in the early 1980s.  With unemployment at 9.7% today, it’s hard to appreciate how much more damage the stimulus investments prevented. Without the more than two million jobs generated by the Recovery Act, the unemployment rate would now exceed 11% rather than the 9.7% rate in January.