Barack Obama just received the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union. They represent almost 2 million voters.
In a speech aimed at labor, Obama said Hillary Clinton "supporting NAFTA didn't give jobs to the American people."
Let's look at the numbers. NAFTA took effect in 1994. The unemployment rate in the three years before was 6.8%, 7.5% and 6.9%. While it had been as low as 5.3% in 1989, in general, it was normal for unemployment to be above 6% and often above 7% in the fourteen years before NAFTA.
Here are the year by year rates through the rest of the Clinton administration: 6.1%, 5.6%, 5.4%, 4.9%, 4.5%, 4.2%, 4.0%. Next we have the "worst since Hoover" Bush recession, and the unemployment rate rises to 4.7%, 5.8% and 6.0%, then back down to 5.5%, 5.1%, 4.6% and 4.6%.
In other words, after NAFTA, unemployment drops precipitously and stays down. It's impossible to know how much effect NAFTA had, though it sure does seem likely it led to a net gain in jobs. At the very least, it's hard to claim it led to a net loss.
Does Obama know this? My guess is yes. But he also knows what people want to hear.
PS We've been linked before, but never Instalinked. Hello, everyone. You know what they always says--"look around the rest of the blog"--so why should I be any different?