Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

CNN Fact Check: Clinton arithmetic holds up on jobs

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Fri September 7, 2012
  • Clinton says Democratic administrations produce more private-sector jobs
  • Federal statistics show his numbers are a bit off, but not substantially
  • GOP terms were hit more by recessions, while population growth may have helped Dems

(CNN) -- It was a big applause line, one of many for former President Bill Clinton Wednesday night.

Speaking to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, Clinton -- whose presidency unfolded during a boom era for the U.S. economy -- told delegates that Democratic administrations had a nearly 2-to-1 advantage over Republicans in creating jobs.

"Since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24," Clinton said. "In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private-sector jobs. So what's the job score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42."

Fact Check: The not-so-empty factory

Since Clinton repeatedly invoked "arithmetic" as the secret to his administration's success, we thought we'd check his.

The facts:

Clinton's math is a bit off, but not substantially.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures examined by CNN, he understated the net number of private jobs created under Democratic administrations and overstated the number of jobs created in GOP eras. But the ratio is basically correct: A net increase of 44.7 million jobs created during the Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton and Obama administrations, compared to a 23.3 million figure during the Nixon, Ford, Reagan and both Bush administrations.

Fact Check: Would Romney bankrupt Medicare by 2016?

Republican numbers were crimped by recessions that occurred more frequently during their administrations -- in 1969 and 1973, 1981, 1990, 2001 and 2007. The only recession to occur during a Democratic presidency was in early 1980, during the Carter administration, while the 2007 recession lasted nearly six months into the Obama administration. Democrats, meanwhile, were also helped by population growth: A bigger country should produce more jobs, and Democrats have held office for nearly 12 of the past 20 years.


Economists constantly argue over which presidents get the credit or the blame for what happened on their watches, of course. But in terms of the numbers Clinton cited, his claim is remarkably close, and the discrepancy doesn't contradict his argument.

Fact Check: Obama, Romney and Osama bin Laden

CNN's Matt Smith, Caitlin Stark and Tom Foreman contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:58 AM EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
Although it has been over for nearly a year now, the war in Iraq continued to be a flash point in the final debate.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
President Barack Obama made the case that al Qaeda in Pakistan is decimated while Mitt Romney argued they are on the rise in other countries.
updated 9:22 AM EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
President Barack Obama accused Mitt Romney of initially being against a withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan in 2014.
updated 9:18 AM EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
The contention that President Obama apologized to other nations for American behavior has been mentioned repeatedly by his critics, including Mitt Romney.
updated 9:12 AM EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
President Barack Obama asserted that it cost the United States less to help oust Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi than it did to run two weeks of the 2003-2011 war in Iraq.
updated 5:58 PM EDT, Tue October 23, 2012
President Barack Obama said Gov. Mitt Romney had criticized his administration for being too tough against China, and bringing a protectionist case at the World Trade Organization.
updated 12:48 PM EDT, Sat October 20, 2012
Conservative critics launched an attack on moderator Candy Crowley after she corrected Romney's claim that Obama did not refer to the consulate attack in Benghazi as an "act of terror."
updated 7:50 AM EDT, Wed October 17, 2012
Romney highlighted the number of women in the unemployment lines during President Barack Obama's term.
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Wed October 17, 2012
Obama said he identified the September 11 assault on the U.S. Consulate in Libya as a terrorist attack within a day; Romney said it took two weeks.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed October 17, 2012
Obama touted his administration's support for the federal Pell Grant program and other aid for college students.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Wed October 17, 2012
Obama boasted that the Affordable Care Act gives insured women free contraception coverage, and said Romney thinks employers should decide whether women can get contraception through insurance.
updated 8:16 AM EDT, Fri October 12, 2012
Fears of a possibly nuclear-armed Iran took center stage early in the vice presidential debate between Biden and Ryan.
updated 8:18 AM EDT, Fri October 12, 2012
The September attack that killed four Americans at a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya was the subject of a few claims at the VP debate.
updated 8:20 AM EDT, Fri October 12, 2012
Federal support for wind power and electric cars was one of the early flashpoints between Biden and Ryan.
updated 8:15 AM EDT, Fri October 12, 2012
The Affordable Care Act emerged as an issue between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.