President Trump at his State of the Union speech
Since Donald Trump has taken office in January of 2017, something he has preached about is job growth and the lowering unemployment rate. During his State of the Union address, President Trump proclaimed — “Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone”, and “Unemployment claims have hit a 45 year low”. That leads to a question — Is Trump correct in these claims, or is this just a classic example of a president trying to make he/she look better than what they actually are? When taking a look at this, it appears that President Trump’s claims are correct, that more jobs are indeed being created, and the unemployment rate is continuing to reach new lows. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy added about 2.1 million new jobs in 2017, to go along with 196,000 new manufacturing positions. FactCheck.Org also provided statistics that supported some of Trump’s statements. The site claims that since Trump was sworn in on January 20, 2017, the unemployment rate continued to drop, reaching a 17-year low. It shows the unemployment rate went down to 4.1% in October, November, and December, which is the lowest it’s been since it hit 3.9% for a four-month span in 2000, (the rate was at 4.8% when he was sworn in), as well as a 4.5% increase in job openings, and a 3.2% overall economic growth rate. During Trump’s first 11 months in office, total nonfarm employment grew by 1.84 million, which FactCheck.Org claims as a “respectable gain”.
I was able to contact Ben Leubsdorf, an economics reporter for the Wall Street Journal, a usually reliable and reputable source of news. Leubsdorf said, “The U.S. economy has added jobs for 88 consecutive months, and the unemployment rate has declined from a high of 10% in 2009 to 4.1% as of January, according to Labor Department data.” Leubsdorf is not alone in his confidence in the growth of the U.S. economy — “Many economic forecasters think the economy will continue to grow and the unemployment rate will continue to decline in the coming months. On average, economists who were surveyed by the Wall Street Journal in January expected the jobless rate would fall to 3.8% by the end of 2018.”
Now, from this another question arises — how has job growth under Trump, so far, compare to job growth under Obama. While it is very clear that the economy is thriving thus far under
Trump and jobs are being created as he proclaimed he would during the 2016 Presidential Election, but the numbers have not surpassed those of Obama’s term, at least yet. As previously noted, total nonfarm employment grew by 1.84 million, but it’s still 12% lower than that of the months before he took office, which was 2.01 million. Here is a graph containing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics comparing Trump’s first 11 months to those in recent years prior:
It is clear that job growth has slowed since the unemployment rate has dropped. During Trump’s first 11 months, there were 171,000 jobs added monthly. Under Obama’s last 6 years, the average per month was 174,000, and in 2014 was at 250,000. All this is saying is that jobs are growing under Trump, just at a slower pace than he may have envisioned, and it may take more time before he can truly say he made a significant impact. Job growth was strong under Obama, and should remain strong under Trump.
Another statement President Trump made during his State of the Union dealt with unemployment among African-Americans and Hispanics. The President said — “African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.” President Trump’s claims are absolutely true. I was also able to get Leubsdorf to comment on this. He backed the President’s claims up — “The unemployment rate for African Americans in December was 6.8%, the lowest level on record. The unemployment rate for Hispanics in November was 4.8%, matching the lowest level on record.” In as recently as 2014, the unemployment rate for African-Americans during the same month (December) was at 10.6%, and in 2009 was at 16.1%. For Hispanics, during a span from 2009–2012 the unemployment rate saw a low of 9.7% and a high of 13.0%, compared to 2017, which saw a low of 4.8% and high of 5.9%. Will these record-low percentages hold steady? That seems tough to maintain, as Leubsdorf said — “However, both rates moved higher in January (2018), when the black unemployment rate was 7.7% and the Hispanic unemployment rate was 5%. Both remain elevated compared with the unemployment rate for whites, which was 3.5% in January.” President Trump tweeted out this out in defense of these statistics — African American unemployment is the lowest ever recorded in our country. The Hispanic unemployment rate dropped a full point in the last year and is close to the lowest in recorded history. Dems did nothing for you but get your vote! #NeverForget @foxandfriends.” While it doesn’t seem very presidential to take it to Twitter, he can at least back it up. The 6.8% African-American unemployment rate was its lowest since 1972, and has not been this low since it hit 7.0% in April 2000 and September 2017 (also under Trump). Now, with that being said, he probably didn’t need to add the last sentence, slamming Democrats and claiming they “did nothing for you but get your vote!” This goes back to the last paragraph explaining how Trump’s numbers do not stand out compared to Obama’s, and shows why President Trump probably should’ve left that last part out, because the unemployment rate for both African-Americans and Hispanics fell by more than half under Obama, a Democrat.
Nonetheless, jobs are being created under President Trump, and unemployment is at an all-time low, as well as for African-Americans and Hispanics. Now, the final and most important question arises — Can President Trump keep the positive momentum going? Can he show that he can take the economy even further beyond year one of his presidency? Louis Jacobson, the senior correspondent for PolitiFact, as well as staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times, said not to expect the unemployment rate to fall much further — “The official unemployment rate has been falling, more or less consistently, since late 2009, when it peaked at 10.0 percent. From its current rate — 4.1 percent — it could fall a little further but not much, since some modest percentage of the workforce is always between jobs for non-worrisome reasons even though they are counted as “unemployed” in official statistics.” Jacobson also told me he expects a fall in the economy at least at some point. “It would be an achievement for the economy if the rate were to remain around where it is now or perhaps a little lower for the near term. A downturn in the economy would be the only thing that could push the rate upward. That will almost certainly happen sooner or later, but it’s not clear when that might happen.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is expected to increase by 11.5 million from the 2016–2026 decade (many of these could be under President Trump, should he be reelected in 2020), from 156.1 million to 167.6 million. This 0.7% annual growth would be slightly faster than that of 2006–2016, which was 0.5%. A lot of these new jobs being created from 2016–2026 are projected to come from healthcare industries and their associated occupations. As the labor force continues to get older, the overall labor force participation rate is expected to decrease, which simply comes from aging, and is not the fault of anyone in office. Industry employment is projected to grow at a rate of 0.7% during this span. Occupational employment is expect to increase by 7.4% during that 10 year span, and healthcare support occupations (23.6 percent) and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations (15.3 percent) are projected to be the fastest growing occupational groups during that span. While these are just projections, and we don’t even know if Trump will remain in office beyond 2020, we do know that jobs SHOULD continue to be created, whether that’s to credit President Trump or not.