Current Recovery “Faster & Stronger” According to CNN Money’s Chris Isidor

A recent CNN Money piece was titled “7.9 Million Jobs Lost Forever” by senior writer Chris Isidore. First, let’s set aside the idea that anything is really “forever” or the idea the we have a totally inelastic work force that, being filled entirely with idiots, never adjusts to the economic realities that confront us. Let us unstead focus on his statement:

“Excluding temporary Census workers, the economy has added fewer than 100,000 jobs a month this year — a much faster and stronger jobs recovery than occurred following the last two recessions in 2001 and 1991.”

Let’s go ahead and check that statement. Let’s take the job number at the end of the recession (as defined by this Wikipedia piece on recessions) and see how each recession did with jobs from the end of the recession onward, which we’ll define as “the jobs recovery”. The below chart shows the number of jobs in the months following the end of each recession.


As you can see, following the end of the recession, this “recovery” is vastly worse on the jobs recovery than previous recoveries. Now, it could be that what Mr. Chris Isidore meant to say is that “in the last 6 months, we’ve seen jobs growth much faster than the last two recessions”. That is the same as saying “See the growth between the two red arrows?”


“It’s awesome. I would like you to infer that, based on this very limited view of jobs growth, President Obama is doing awesome on the jobs front.”

First of all, that kind of statement is why people think that reporters (even reporters who work for CNN Money) can’t do simple addition. Either Mr. Isidore is an idiot or he is deliberately mis-reporting the data.

Speaking of which, why would Mr. Isidore only use the last two recessions as an example? Let’s look at the last three recessions instead of the last two.


As you can see, in a similar time frame, the improvement in jobs in the early 1980’s recession was heads and shoulders above any of the other recessions. In fact, in a comparable period, the early 1980’s jobs recovery was at a rate 4 times faster than this current one. And yet Mr. Isidore cherry picks a specific section of time within a specific set of recessions in order to make the claim that the jobs growth we’ve seen is “faster and stronger.”


  1. Guest says:

    This is great stuff. Please don’t stop publishing. I’m tired of the spin the media puts on the numbers.

  2. Al says:

    I enjoy these visualisations and usually learn something about my own perceptions in the process. Good stuff.

  3. LOUDelf says:

    Reminds me of a time when Dan Duquette, past GM for the Boston Red Sox explained his team’s 2nd-place finish with: “We were in first place longer than any other team in the division”. Which left people scratching their heads as to the relevancy of the data he quoted in relation to its outcome…

  4. Martin says:

    Way to go, please continue with your analysis. It is a reminder that we all need to be critical thinkers and not just accept what is thrown at us as gospel.

    I think Thomas Jefferson said, “Question with boldness …”

    I really appreciate the time you take to put this stuff out there. I’ve been sending people to your app, too.

  5. paul says:

    Can you but facebook sharing on here! This stuff is the best.

  6. Papa Swamp says:

    eeek you changed colors for the late 2000s from green to purple in the last graph…tsk, tsk…not good visual continuance.

  7. Fisher says:

    Hey, cool post! Thanks…