If you stop by the White House's homepage right now, you'll see a headline at the top of the site that reads, "The Strongest Average Monthly Job Growth in More Than Two Decades." It leads to a piece that makes the case that job growth in January and February -- and only January and February -- has the U.S. on track for the best year since the mid-1990s.
This is not a good argument. Sure, job growth in the first two months of the year was great -- combined, we saw growth of 552,000 jobs -- but no one seriously tries to extrapolate annual results from just two months.
Except Donald Trump and his team, that is.
I'm not unsympathetic to the White House's eagerness to brag about encouraging economic news. What Team Trump shouldn't do, however, is try to spin good data in misleading ways.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, for example, told reporters last week, "Jobs are coming in at record numbers." No, actually, they're not. Job growth in Trump's first year, for example, was slower than any year of Barack Obama's second term. We topped 300,000 jobs in February, which is fantastic, but we crossed that same threshold nine times during Obama's presidency. No records are being broken.
As for the 552,000 jobs created in the first two months of 2018, that's excellent news, but it's easy to find even better back-to-back monthly totals in recent years. In June and July of 2016, for example, when Trump first launched his campaign. the U.S. economy created 610,000 jobs in just those two months -- though it didn't stop Trump from telling Americans the economy was terrible.
Indeed, while the truth should be good enough, the Republican president is himself describing the latest job numbers in ways that are plainly and demonstrably dishonest.