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EPA chief, White House get caught making bogus jobs claims

EPA chief Scott Pruitt's favorite talking point about the coal industry is ridiculously and demonstrably untrue.
In this March 10, 2016 photo, Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma Attorney General, gestures as he speaks during an interview in Oklahoma City, Okla. (Photo by Sue Ogrocki/AP)
In this March 10, 2016 photo, Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma Attorney General, gestures as he speaks during an interview in Oklahoma City, Okla.

On "Meet the Press" over the weekend, former Vice President Al Gore told NBC News' Chuck Todd the truth about a struggling industry: "The loss of jobs in the coal industry started with the mechanization of the coal industry. Natural gas started displacing coal and the fossil fuel sector. And promising to re-create the 19th century is not a visionary strategy for a successful 21st century."

The host asked Donald Trump's far-right EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, whether Gore is right. "Dead wrong," Pruitt replied. "Because the numbers show exactly the opposite. In fact, since the fourth quarter of last year to most recently, we've added almost 50,000 jobs in the coal sector. In the month of May alone, almost 7,000 jobs."

The Republican EPA administrator made the nearly identical claim on ABC and Fox News, suggesting it wasn't just a verbal slip-up. This was the message Pruitt prepared in advance and was eager to tell the public.

It was not, however, true. The Washington Post reported:

Here's the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on coal jobs. As you can see, it has been in a tight range for months, with a slight gain. In the last four months of the Obama administration, September to January, there was a gain of 1,400 jobs. In the first four months of the Trump administration, there has been a gain of 1,000 jobs. [...][R]ather than the gain of 47,000 jobs touted by Pruitt, the reality is that 1,000 coal jobs have been added since Trump became president. For the month of May, the gain was 400 jobs, not 7,000.

If we add jobs in the entire "mining" sector of the economy, the overall number grows, but (a) it's still short of what Pruitt claimed, and (b) the majority of mining jobs created in recent months have nothing to do with the coal industry, which in context, is exactly what he was referring to in the interviews.

Or put another way, Scott Pruitt's favorite talking point is ridiculously and demonstrably untrue.

Worse, this isn't the first time Trump World struggled to read a jobs report accurately. Media Matters had a good report along these lines a month ago:

During a May 5 White House press briefing, Politico's Matthew Nussbaum asked [White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders] if President Donald Trump still believed Obamacare was "a job killer" after the April 2017 jobs report showed a net gain of 211,000 jobs as part of a record breaking 79 consecutive months of job growth. Huckabee-Sanders initially deflected before making the head-turning statement that "the most growth in this jobs report were in manufacturing, coal miners, other places."An odd statement considering a breakdown of the jobs report by employment industry showed the manufacturing sector created only 6,000 jobs last month while coal mining added approximately 200 total jobs. Even after accounting for all mining and logging jobs (10,000 jobs), as well as the "Other" category (7,000 jobs), the huge majority of new jobs created in April were created elsewhere:

In other words, the White House just straight up lied about easily checked data in an official report -- just like Scott Pruitt did two days ago.