Before withdrawing from the Paris climate accord yesterday, Donald Trump told the public, “The economy is starting to come back, and very, very rapidly.” As proof, the Republican said the nation has added “more than a million private-sector jobs.”
It’s difficult to know whether Trump actually believes what he’s saying, but both of these assertions are belied by reality. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the U.S. economy added 138,000 jobs in May, an underwhelming total. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, inched lower to 4.3%.
As for the revisions, the totals for March and April were both revised down, and combined they show a net loss of about 66,000 jobs.
What about the president’s claim that we’ve added “more than a million private-sector jobs”? That’s only true if we start fiddling with the definition of “we.” In the four full months Trump has been in office, the U.S. economy, as of this morning’s new data, has added 601,000 private-sector jobs. If we’re generous and add January to the total – Obama was president for two-thirds of the month – the economy’s added 805,000 private-sector jobs.
To get to “more than a million,” Trump would have to claim credit for economic progress that happened before he took office.
Above you’ll find the chart I run every month, showing monthly job losses since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction – red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush and Trump administrations, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.
Update: Here’s another chart, this one showing monthly job losses/gains in just the private sector since the start of the Great Recession.