On jobs, Trump's record is not what he thinks it is

For all of Trump's chest-thumping, his record on jobs isn't nearly as impressive as he expects voters to believe.
Image: People wait to file for unemployment at the Arkansas Workforce Center in Fort Smith on April 6, 2020.
People wait to file for unemployment at the Arkansas Workforce Center in Fort Smith on April 6, 2020.Nick Oxford / Reuters

Donald Trump spoke with the Washington Post's Marc Thiessen this week and tried to focus on the economy. "We're going to set new records, we're setting new jobs records," the president said. "11.4 million in the last four and a half months."

The statistic is true, though it needs context: the 11.4 million jobs created since May would be better news if the United States hadn't lost 22 million jobs in March and April. Making matters slightly worse, the recovery has slowed of late, and the jobs report for September -- the last before Election Day -- was disappointing by every metric.

But there was something else Trump told Thiessen that was even more problematic.

"We're going [to] make the economy stronger than ever before. The best year we've ever had was last year. The best year we will ever have is going to be next year and that's going to bring people together."

On the surface, this is predictable cheerleading for someone seeking re-election: vote for me and everything will get even better.

But for the president to believe 2019 was "the best year we've ever had" is bizarre. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.13 million jobs were created in the United States last year, which isn't a bad total.

But it's not an amazing total, either. That tally was a drop from the jobs created in 2018 and it was lower than any year from Barack Obama's second term. In fact, job growth in 2019 was the third worst of the last decade.

In other words, after Trump had been in office for a while, and he had economic policies in place that he wanted, domestic job growth still lagged.

Indeed, for all of the Republican's chest-thumping, the truth remains that fewer jobs were created during Trump's first three years than during Obama's last three years, and the incumbent president has never even tried to explain why job growth slowed after he took office -- even before the coronavirus pandemic. What's more, no individual year from Trump's tenure has produced job growth that matches the best years from Obama's second term.

Complicating matters further, Joe Biden noted this week that Trump is on track to be the first president since Hoover to leave office with fewer jobs than when he came into office -- a claim that has the benefit of being true.

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel recently argued via Twitter, "There's no denying it: [Donald Trump] is the JOBS President!" As it turns out, it's quite easy to deny it, because the claim is demonstrably untrue.