This graph from Organizing for America showing monthly job-change since the beginning of the recession has been making its way around the Internet. I think the point is supposed to be that Obama is turning the country in the right direction. Well, maybe he is and maybe he isn't. After all the percentage of home mortgages at least 90 days delinquent was up 2.1% for the year ending Q3 2009. (And the mortgage delinquency problem is not one of those declining-rate-of-decline situations: the Q3 2009 rate was up 5.0% just for the quarter.)
In any event, I have the feeling that one of the lessons we're supposed to take from the OFA graph is something like: "If only Scott Brown voters had seen a graph like this before they went to the polls in January surely they'd never have made the choice they did." I don't know what bothers me more about this: that folks are (still) surprised that reason and fact-based thinking failed to carry the day in the MA special Senate election, or that they think this graph an instance of reason and fact-based thinking.
Anyway, here are a couple graphs that I made myself. (Click on them for full-size versions.) One uses the same BLS data as the OFA graph but gives it some annoying historical context: it goes back to 1946. Each color is a different presidential administration. Looks like Nixon and Reagan had themselves some pretty good years by this measure. Hell, just go back to 2003 and you'll see that Dubya presided over the addition of better than 8 million jobs for a spell. A version of the OFA graph created in January 2008 would have had Bush 43 looking like the King Midas of employment.
And here's one that's about as helpful as the OFA graph in understanding a president's influence over short-term changes in employment conditions. It shows that inflation-adjusted average weekly earnings have gone down since Obama took office (the gold bars) -- after rocketing up in Bush's last half-year.