In his end-of-the-year press conference, President Obama started out by doing a sort of good-news-from-2014 recap. He highlighted successes on the policy and economic front, and catastrophes avoided internationally -- and domestically, on Ebola. He also made three easily check-able claims about the economy, which we decided to check.
Claim 1: 2014 was the strongest year for job growth since the 1990s.
Obama's exact words: "The steps that we took early on to rescue our economy and rebuild it on a new foundation helped make 2014 the strongest year for job growth since the 1990s."
Accuracy: Correct -- assuming the December numbers don't go south.
According to data from the Department of Labor, the United States has added 2.65 million jobs this year. That's January through November; December data won't be out until next month.
So far, according to that data, 2014 has been the strongest year since the 1990s. But barely. The year 1999 saw 3.2 million jobs added. In 2000, the figured dipped under 2 million.
But that also assumes that 1) December won't show a steep loss of jobs and 2) October and November numbers, which will be revised in upcoming labor reports, don't show big drops as well. We're only 104,000 jobs above the second-highest year since 1999 -- 2005. A big drop is very unlikely, but it could theoretically happen.
Claim 2: Businesses have added nearly 11 million jobs since 2010.
Obama's exact words: "All told, over a 57-month streak, our businesses have created nearly 11 million new jobs."
Accuracy: True -- but "businesses" does a lot of work.
If we look at February 2010 as our benchmark (57 months from November, the most recent month for which we have data), we come up a bit short of 11 million jobs.
In total, the country has added 10.4 million jobs over that time period. If you take out the losses in government employment, though, you get over the 10.9 million mark. That inclusion of "businesses" is key.
Claim 3: America has added twice as many jobs as other advanced economies over four years.
Obama's exact words: "America's outperformed all of our other competitors. Over the past four years, we've put more people back to work than all other advanced economies combined."
Accuracy: True, according to data from the International Monetary Fund.
Obama made a similar-but-different claim in November that earned him one Pinocchio from the Post's fact-checker. Then, he used "since I came into office" as a benchmark. By limiting it to "the past four years," you drop the abysmal 2009, and the claim is true. From 2010 to 2013, here's how the "advanced economies" (as IMF defines them) compare:
Note, though, that the IMF estimates of jobs created in the U.S. are substantially lower than the figure reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A final note: All of these bits of data skip important context. The population increase in the United States, for example, which makes 2.6 million jobs in 2014 a much less big deal than 3.2 million in 1999. And the fact that the United States' job growth versus those other (mostly smaller) advanced countries is helped by some particularly terrible economies, like Greece and Spain.
In all, though, good enough news to mention in a recap of the year.
Correction: This article originally compared the second claim to the overall job count and not private sector jobs.