When it comes to job creation, presidential candidates are forever taking credit or laying blame.
Sen. John Kerry told a Greensboro, N.C., crowd earlier this month: "Over the last three years, we have lost 2.7 million manufacturing jobs."
But according to a campaign speech President Bush delivered in New York this week, "Over the past year, 47 of the 50 states have added jobs." He said the unemployment rate is "lower than the average of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s."
All the statements are accurate. But one seems to resonate above the rest: "All 11 presidents from Herbert Hoover on created jobs in America except George W. Bush," said Kerry during a campaign stop in Cleveland this month.
There are 900,000 fewer jobs for Americans today than when President Bush took office, in part because the recession followed by 9/11, corporate scandals and war with Iraq put a deep chill on hiring.
"Much of the job loss was way beyond what Bush could control," said professor Jeremy Siegel of the Wharton School of Business.
Last year, however, Bush promised to turn job loss around with his Jobs and Growth Plan, a massive tax cut promoted as a way to create 5.5 million jobs in 18 months. Job growth is improving, but only 1.7 million jobs have been created.
Now Kerry is promising to create 10 million jobs over four years.
He plans to create manufacturing jobs by having the government pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on new factory hires for the next two years. To discourage outsourcing, he proposes a corporate tax cut, paid for by ending the tax break on profits earned overseas.
In order to make hiring full-time workers less expensive, the government would help pay for catastrophic health-care insurance.
But will it work? Several economists told ABC News it will be hard to revive manufacturing.
"I think there are very strong global forces that, for almost three decades, have been forcing jobs away from the rich countries of the world toward the developing countries," said Siegel. "I don't really think we are going to get those jobs back."
Bush's Plan to Grow Jobs
Bush believes the best way to grow jobs is to keep the economy growing through lower taxes.
The centerpiece of his jobs plan is making his tax cuts permanent. He would also protect business from the high costs of government regulation and frivolous lawsuits, and he would help displaced workers with job retraining programs.
Will his plan work? One major criticism is that it's unlikely to have much economic impact.
"There's no new stimulus there, so there's nothing new that's going to add a lot of new jobs," said economist L. Douglass Lee, founder of Economics from Washington.
It's not easy, even for a president, to change the course of something as massive as the U.S. economy. One analyst said the most important economic decision the next president may make is choosing a successor to Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, whose term expires in late January 2006.
ABC News' Betsy Stark filed this report for World News Tonight.