Did FDR oversee a faster rate of job growth than any of his successors?

Friday, January 21, 2022
By Jacob Alabab-Moser

Franklin D. Roosevelt, first elected president in the midst of the Great Depression, led the U.S. for twelve years, during which the country added 15 million jobs, a 38.5% gain. (FDR took office in 1933 and died in office early in his fourth term in 1945.)

Succeeding presidents, limited by a 1947 constitutional amendment to two terms, have bettered those absolute numbers as the size of the U.S. economy has grown, but not the percentage growth of the FDR years.

President Bill Clinton presided over an economy that added 18.6 million jobs, a 15.6% gain.

The Reagan administration added 16.5 million jobs, a 16.6% gain.

Economists debate the ability of any single leader to influence employment amid larger economic and social forces. A 2016 study found that Democratic administrations posted better overall economic results, but found that the "edge" derived "mainly" from oil-price changes, productivity trends, "a more favorable international environment" and "perhaps more optimistic consumer expectations about the near-term future."

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