You wouldn’t know this from reading most media reports, but the job growth under Trump has actually slowed when compared to the last three years of President Obama’s presidency. Things are still good, they’re just not Obama-good.
The latest jobs report is stronger than expected, and being hailed by the media in a way never seen under President Obama, who made history with the longest consecutive growth strength in 75 years. Obama managed that as Congressional Republicans obstructed his every attempt to expand jobs, in their politically motivated and newly found love (and now again lost love) for austerity.
Certainly President Trump has bragged up the economy to such an extent that any reality check will tend to disappoint, but indeed, these numbers look good on the surface, even if the caveat that applied under Obama still applies here, which is that many people are not feeling this positivity. It simply doesn’t resonate for many Americans, due the massive inequality between the haves and the have-nots.
But things are still good! “Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 225,000 in January, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 3.6 percent” the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday morning.
They’re just not Obama-good. And that means that Trump is lying when he repeatedly claims he is overseeing the best job growth in our history.
Rachel Maddow show producer Steve Bennen pointed out on his blog, “(W)hile Trump spent the year boasting that the U.S. job market was the strongest it’s ever been, 2019 saw job growth slow to an eight-year low.”
Bennen expands this further, “What’s more, the best year for jobs during Trump’s presidency – 2.31 million in 2018 – fails to reach the job growth in any of the three final years of Barack Obama’s presidency. It adds a degree of irony to his rhetorical record: Trump ran for president in 2015 and 2016, telling the nation that the economy was horrible and he’d make it vastly better. But annual job growth totals from both 2015 and 2016 were better than any year of the Republican’s tenure, at least so far.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement sent to PoliticusUSA that three years in, “(T)he Trump economy is creating 42,000 fewer jobs a month on average than the last three years of President Obama.”
Bennen did the math here, and found that in Trump’s three years (February 2017 through January 2020), the economy created 6.56 million jobs. Yet, “In the 36 months preceding Trump’s presidency – February 2014 to January 2017 – the economy created 8.08 million jobs.”
In 2018, Chuck Jones writing for Forbes pointed out, “President Trump started with a distinct advantage with a workforce of 145.7 million, 9% larger than when President Obama took office. If the workforce were to only grow by 2%, that would add just over 2.9 million jobs a year or 243,000 per month. Over the course of 10 years, there would be over 29 million jobs added.”
So it’s fair to say that Trump didn’t have to change any policies and he could have ridden Obama’s coat tails to meeting his campaign promise. And yet job growth is slower than it was under Obama’s last three years, the years after he pulled us out of the recession pretty much by all by his party’s work, with Republicans rooting for his failure at every turn.
Growing inequity existed under Obama and other presidents as well. Obama tried to address it, but he was forced to save the entire economy from collapse, and obstructed relentlessly by Republicans who had vowed to block him at every turn as he was sworn into office.
The workplace suicide rate has hit historic highs, which perhaps suggests that workers aren’t feeling the highs the investment class is:
— BLS-Labor Statistics (@BLS_gov) February 7, 2020
The bottom line is the Trump economy is not as good as the Obama economy in terms of job growth. It just isn’t, no matter how Republicans try to stack the deck in favor of Trump by giving Trump November of 2016 onward, even though he was not president then.
It’s also kind of second-hand embarrassing to see Republicans, including Fox News, calling these numbers “outstanding” when they spent the Obama years manufacturing conspiracy theories about the BLS numbers, since they were unable to admit that Obama had an even more “outstanding” performance on jobs.
Trump claims his numbers are “the best it has ever been” and that is completely false. No one can claim that, due to the way records were kept, but if anyone in modern time can claim that, it is Barack Obama. And that is no lie.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.