Job growth tops expectations in Oct, but totals still slip under Trump

Updated

Ahead of this morning’s jobs report, most projections pointed to growth in October in the ballpark of 85,000, in part because of the effects of the General Motors strike. It looks like those expectations were a bit too gloomy.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the economy added 128,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate inched up a little to 3.6%. Fortunately, the revisions from August and September were revised up, adding 95,000 jobs from previous reporting.

As for the political implications, Donald Trump has now been in office for 33 full months – February 2017 through October 2019 – and in that time, the economy has created 6.25 million jobs. In the 33 months preceding Trump’s presidency – May 2014 to January 2017 – the economy created 7.38 million jobs.

As regular readers know, some have asked what would happen if we looked at the same numbers, but assigned the job totals from January 2017 to Trump, even though Obama was president for most of the month. On balance, I think that paints a misleading picture, but it doesn’t change the underlying dynamic: if we applied jobs from January 2017 to Trump and compared the last 34 months to the previous 34 months, job totals still slowed from 7.71 million to 6.5 million.

The White House, meanwhile, believes we should actually start the clock for Trump at November 2016 – the month of the Republican’s election – and apply the jobs created during the final months of the Obama era to the current Republican president. But that still doesn’t help: if we compare the last 36 months to the previous 36 months, job totals slowed from 8 million to 6.89 million.

Let’s also note that so far this calendar year, the United States has added 1.67 million jobs, which puts 2019 on track to be the worst year for domestic job creation since 2010.

Trump continues to tell the world that he’s overseeing the strongest domestic job growth in American history, which is plainly false. What’s more, the White House has not yet offered an explanation for why job growth has slowed since Trump took office.

Above you’ll find the chart I run every month, showing monthly changes in total jobs since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction: red columns point to monthly changes under the Bush and Trump administrations, while blue columns point to monthly job changes under the Obama administration.