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Trump isn’t helping himself by slamming a 3.9% unemployment rate

The only way to take Donald Trump's rhetoric about jobs seriously is to ignore every piece of information and forget everything we know about his record.


Throughout President Joe Biden’s term, there’s been a familiar pattern. On the first Friday of the month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has released encouraging news about the American job market, which Republican leaders have pretended not to notice.

There’s been a lot for the GOP to ignore lately. The U.S. economy has created over 16 million jobs since January 2021; there have been 40 consecutive months of job gains; and the unemployment rate in the United States has now been below 4% for 27 consecutive months — a streak unseen since the 1960s. Put simply, by most measures, the Biden-era job market is the strongest most Americans have ever seen.

Late last week, however, the news wasn’t quite as great as it’s been recently: The preliminary data showed an economy that added 175,000 jobs in April, as the unemployment rate inched up, from 3.8% to 3.9%.

And it was at that point when Donald Trump, who told the public two days earlier that Biden-era job numbers should be seen as “fake,” seized on the data from April to claim that the White House is “destroying” the country.

On his social media platform, the former president added that the latest data was “HORRIBLE.”

At this point, we could talk about the fact there’s simply nothing “horrible” about an economy adding 175,000 jobs per month. That total might’ve been a little short of expectations, but to see the preliminary tally — which will be revised — as a disaster is ridiculous.

We could also spend some time noting that, technically, the unemployment rate went from 3.83% to 3.87%. No serious adult would characterize this as evidence of U.S. officials “destroying” the country.

We might also devote a paragraph or two explaining that a 3.9% jobless rate is still amazing. How many times, across the entirety of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, did the unemployment rate fall below 4%? Literally zero times. And yet, under Biden, the rate has been below 4% every month for more than two years.

If we were being picky, we might also note that when Trump left office, the jobless rate was 6.4%, and few believed it was possible that it would fall to 3.4% within two years. And yet that’s precisely what happened.

But for now, let’s put all of that aside and instead focus on something different: Trump’s standards.

In January 2018, as the Republican’s second year as president was getting underway, he boasted, “Our economy is better than it has been in many decades.” Care to guess how many jobs were created in January 2018? The answer is 146,000.

In July 2018, Trump declared, “We have the greatest economy in the history of our country.” The U.S. economy in July 2018 created 55,000 jobs.

In fact, in Trump’s first year in the White House, the average number of jobs created by month was 176,000 — almost identical to the tally from last month. The average number of jobs created by month across the first three years of Trump term (before Covid) was 177,000, which, again, is nearly identical to the tally from last month, which he described as a “disaster.”

The total number of jobs created across Trump’s first three years was roughly 6.3 million, while the total number of jobs created across Biden’s first three years was roughly 14.7 million.

The only way to take the Republican’s rhetoric about job growth seriously is to ignore every relevant piece of information and forget everything we know about his own record.