Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina claimed during Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate that 92% of the job losses in President Obama’s first term belonged to women — a number that sounds shockingly high.
There’s a reason for that: The statistic is highly deceptive.
If the number sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney cited the same figure during his 2012 bid. And fact-checkers back then also said the claim was misleading.
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Between January 2009 and March 2012, there were 740,000 fewer non-farm payroll jobs. (That was the most recent number available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics when Romney made the claim.) And of that total amount, 683,000 — or 92% — were held by women. But analysts said the number didn’t give an accurate description of what was going on at the time.
Job losses as a result of the Great Recession started two years before Obama took office. “Obama cannot be held entirely accountable for the employment picture on the day he took office, just as he could not be given credit if times had been booming,” wrote Politifact after Romney cited the statistic. And looking at the entire Great Recession overall, men actually lost more jobs than women — it just happened that men lost theirs earlier in the recession.
But Fiorina specifically referred to “Obama’s first term” during the debate in Colorado. However, we now have the complete numbers. And it turns out, the number of women employed in the U.S. from January 2009 to January 2013 actually increased.
Fiorina’s initial remarks were aimed at Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who — like the Republican — is trying to make a strong appeal to women voters. Fiorina argued during the debate that “It is the height of hypocrisy for Mrs. Clinton to talk about being the first woman president, when every single policy she espouses and every single policy of President Obama has been demonstrably bad for women.”
This isn’t the first debate in which some of Fiorina’s claims have been met with skepticism. During last month’s face-off, she dramatically referenced a secretly recorded video from an anti-abortion group. However, no independent organizations have been able to verify that such a video exists.