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Economic Record: President Clinton

Name:Bill Clinton
Vice President:Al Gore
Entered Office:January 20, 1993
Left Office:January 20, 2001
  Photograph of Bill Clinton

The economy performed phenomenally during President Clinton's two terms. He came in well above average according to every one of the measures below and he has the best record for job creation of all time. He is the only one of the five most recent presidents to have reduced the debt as a percentage of GDP.

Major economic events:

February 5, 1993:Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 signed into law
January 1, 1994:North American Free Trade Agreement takes effect
November 14, 1995:First government shutdown
December 16, 1995:Second government shutdown
August 21, 1996:Minimum waise raised 20%
August 22, 1996:Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act signed into law
August 5, 1997:Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 signed into law
November 12, 1999:Key provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act repealed
March 11, 2000:The dot-com bubble begins to burst


clinton gdp performance

Related: Best Presidents for GDP growth
Source: BEA
Data: Excel

  The green line represents the GDP growth during the presidency of President Clinton. The orange line reflects the average rate of GDP growth since 1953.

The period from 1991 to 2001 is the longest sustained period of economic growth since WW2 and the bulk of it occurred during Clinton's presidency.

Job Creation

clinton job creation

Related: Ranking the presidents for job creation
Source: BLS
Data: Excel

  The green line represents the rate of the growth in the number of jobs under President Bill Clinton. The orange line reflects the average rate of growth in the number of jobs since 1953.

More jobs were created during the Clinton presidency than during any other presidency in American history. That is not an entirely fair comparison. Because the population continually increases, presidents significantly further back in history cannot compete with modern day numbers. Adjusted for population, FDR would hold the title. But, Clinton's job creation numbers are nonetheless incredible.

Median Income

clinton median income

Related: Ranking the presidents for income growth
Source: Census
Data: Excel

  The orange line is the rate at which the median family income has increased on average since 1953 and the green line is how fast it increased under Clinton.

Debt as a Percentage of GDP

clinton debt

Related: Change in debt by president
Source: BEA   Treasury
Data: Excel

  This graph examines the way the debt shifted relative to GDP. The orange line shows what the debt would have been if it had started at the same level as it was at when President Clinton took office and had grown at the average rate. The green line shows what actually happened.

Clinton is the only one of the five most recent presidents to have reduce the debt as a percentage of GDP over his entire term and he is the only president since the 1960s to have run a budget surplus.

Stock Market

clinton stock market

Related: Stock market performance by party of president
Source: Yahoo
Data: Excel

  This graph compares the performance of the S&P500 under President Clinton with the average.

The remarkable stock market growth during the Clinton presidency was principally driven by the dot-com boom, which peaked with the purchase of Time Warner by AOL in January of 2000. Shortly thereafter, the market began to fall, although the worst of the crash occurred during the presidency of George W. Bush.

Compared to Other Developed Countries

clinton gdp compared to world

Related: Economic performance relative to NATO countries
Source: USDA   University of Groningen
Data: Excel

  This shows how the GDP growth of the United States compared to the GDP growth in the other original NATO member countries. The other original NATO member countries are used as a benchmark because they have had relatively similar economic status to the United States during the entire period examined.

The U.S. economy solidly outperformed the other original NATO members during Clinton's two terms. Bill Clinton ranks third since WW2 in this regard.

President Clinton's economic success was nearly unparalled. However, one of the major drivers was beyond his control- the dot-com boom. Nonetheless, President Clinton certainly made the most out of the opportunity and took the economy to new heights.

Clinton struck a number of compromises with Republicans in the legislature that resulted in a relatively moderate set of policies. For example, he accepted the Republican demands for lower capital gains taxes and a drastic reduction in welfare spending, but he made those concessions in exchange for an increase in the minimum wage and a dramatic increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit.

January 4, 2018

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