When Bush began his first term in January 2001, total nonfarm employment was 132.47 million. When his second term began four years later, it was 132.45 million, or effectively zero job growth.
Obama's first term isn't technically over yet, but so far, employment has risen from 133.56 million in January 2009 to 134.02 million in the latest report, for December 2012. That's a net gain of about 460,000 or 0.3 percent. As paltry as that is, it beats Bush's first-term performance.
Purists might argue that because of the one-month lag in the official job numbers, it would be more appropriate to judge each president's first term from the February figures rather than those for January. But that gives Obama an even bigger edge. From February 2001 to February 2005, the economy created 164,000 jobs, for a 0.1 percent gain during Bush's first term. From February 2009 through December 2012, the economy created nearly 1.2 million jobs, a 0.9 percent improvement.