The administration of President Obama likes to tout its string of positive-jobs-numbers months -- a streak which as of Friday now stands at 56. It is, as many have pointed out, the longest such string on record. And yet, of the six most recent presidents, Obama ranks fourth in total jobs created and jobs created per month.
Why? Because a string of small-to-moderate increases to the number of people employed doesn't add up to a large number. Compare presidents Carter through Obama. (The graphs below show the first month of the presidency -- January of the inauguration year -- through the last or most recent month.)
That's the same vertical scale use for each, allowing you to compare the ups and downs. Or, animated!
(The weird spike in Reagan's numbers is thanks to the dip the month prior: It is due to workers ending a strike.)
A fact that may come up on the campaign trail: Obama has overseen more jobs added than either of the two Bushes -- combined. Even if you scale up the Bush administration totals to account for the increased population, there have been more jobs added under Obama. Which makes sense: His monthly average is higher.
As has been noted before, that's despite a decrease in government employees.
There are a huge number of factors that go into changes in jobs numbers, and the role of the president in creating or losing jobs is one of a legitimate political debate. A raw comparison shows that Obama's track record has been middling over the past few administrations -- but that his predecessor did worse.