(CNN) – Hillary Clinton, throughout much of her book tour, has made bold claims comparing the Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton economies.
Last week, Clinton stepped up those claims in an interview with Charlie Rose when she asserted “if I just were to compare Reagan's eight years with Bill's eight years, it's like night and day in terms of the effects, the number of jobs that were created, the number of people lifted out of poverty 100 times more when Bill was president. And did policies have something to do with that? I would argue that they did.”
This is far from the first time Hillary or Bill Clinton have boasted about the economic gains made during their years in the White House. The former first lady started to talk up her husband's economic record in May, when she told a liberal audience in Washington that "The 1990s taught us that even in the face of difficult long term economic trends, it is possible through smart policies and sound investments to enjoy broad-based growth and shared prosperity."
Hillary’s decision to implicitly criticize Ronald Reagan’s economy represents a more confrontational tone from the former first lady, however, and reflects the actions of someone who may be gearing up for a potential presidential run.
Clinton vs. Reagan on Jobs
Her first claim – that the effects of the Clinton and Reagan economies were like “night and day” – implies that under her husband job growth dramatically outperformed Reagan’s.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the agency charged with collecting employment data, the number of people employed jumped by 18.7 million between January 1993 and January 2001, Clinton's eight years in the White House.
During Reagan’s eight years, though, 16.75 million people were employed, meaning just under 2 million more jobs were created during the Clinton's years compared to Reagan.
When adjusting for population size and growth, though, the Reagan tenure actually grew employment at a faster rate than did the Clinton term.
By another measure, “nonfarm payroll,” which excludes the self-employed but counts each part-time job, Clinton’s economy created 22.8 million salaried and wage earning jobs while Reagan’s created 16.1 million. In the private sector, Reagan saw a net gain of 14.7 million jobs while under Clinton private sector jobs grew by 21 million.
Reagan’s job growth also suffered from a severe recession during his first term accentuated by anti-inflationary measures he took, net job gains did not accumulate until mid-1983. Benefiting from consistently low inflation and employing looser monetary policy, Clinton, on the other hand, saw consistent gains until the end of his term in office when job growth leveled off.
Both Clinton and Reagan signed historic tax cuts and deregulation, which some economists credit for the robust job and economic growth during their terms in office.
On jobs then, the Reagan and Clinton economies both experienced dramatic job growth making Hillary’s claim of a “night and day” difference between the two is exaggerated at best.