The Washington Post

How’s the economy doing? It depends.

The strength or weakness of the economy is largely in the eye of the beholder.

The 2012 election (re)taught us all that lesson. Democrats insisted that President Obama has done the best he could under incredibly difficult economic conditions he inherited from former President George W. Bush.  Republicans argued that Obama was clueless about how to fix the economy, resorting to growing government as his default (and only) solution.

And, with every month's jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the two sides seemed to literally be looking at totally different realities. Democrats praised what they called slow-but-steady progress. Republicans said the economy was hopelessly stuck in neutral.

(Obama wound up winning the broader argument and a second term although it's worth noting that Romney won 51 percent of all voters who said the economy was the most important issue facing the country.)

The Democrats are from Mars, Republicans are from Venus nature of the political fight over the economy is illustrated brilliantly in a new infographic from Yahoo's Chris Wilson, who is rapidly becoming the Fix's favorite data-driven journalist out there.

In the map below, Wilson allows you to compare any two years between 2000 and 2011 when it comes to job growth -- either by raw job created (or lost) or as a percentage.  You can also drill down into specific job sectors to see how they did over time.

The result -- aside from being astounded at Wilson's handiwork -- is unsurprising: How the economy has done or is doing is largely dependent on the lens -- time frame, metric of success/failure -- through which you look.

Fiddle around with Wilson's map. It's amazing.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.



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