Trump cited the figure at a morning meeting with business leaders, saying it reflected a "great spirit in the country right now.""So we're very happy about that," Trump said. "I think that it's gonna continue big league. We're bringing back jobs, we're bringing down your taxes, we're getting rid of your regulations. I think it's gonna be some really very exciting times ahead."At an afternoon briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer more explicitly credited the new administration for the final Obama-era jobs numbers.
As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who has an unfortunate habit of embracing wild-eyed conspiracy theories, was convinced U.S. job numbers were a sham. The more the economy added jobs, the more the Republican told voters not to believe the official data, telling the public, without proof or evidence, that the official data was "one of the biggest hoaxes in American politics."At different points in the campaign, Trump publicly argued that the unemployment rate was 20% -- or possibly 42% -- even as reality pointed to a rate below 5%. After the election, at a pre-inaugural press conference, the president declared there are "96 million really wanting a job and they can't get," which was nonsensical, even for him.The unemployment rate, Trump declared as recently December, is "totally fiction."But that was before Friday morning, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added 227,000 jobs in January, ahead of expectations. Does Team Trump still believe nefarious forces are manipulating employment figures as part of an elaborate ruse? Apparently not. The Washington Post reported:
The latest data, Spicer argued, "reflects the consumer confidence that the Trump presidency has inspired."In recent months, Trump World has repeatedly tried to take credit for economic news they had nothing to do with, so these latest boasts at least fit comfortably into the larger pattern.As a factual matter, President Obama was in office for two-thirds of January, and the Labor Department's jobs survey was conducted in the second week of the month, which is the week before Inauguration Day. Trump and his team are taking credit for job creation that occurred when he was still a private citizen with no official responsibilities.The Trump White House would also like the public to believe the new president has already taken a variety of steps that boosted the economy, but those claims have largely collapsed under scrutiny.Complicating matters further, Trump World said as recently as Friday that policies such as Dodd-Frank reforms and the Affordable Care Act are undermining job creation, even as they simultaneously tout impressive numbers on job creation.But even putting all of that aside, I'm left with a broader question: what happens if there's a discouraging jobs report? January was the 76th consecutive month of positive job growth, which is the longest on record, but there's a decent chance the streak will be broken at some point over the next four years.I have a strong hunch we shouldn't expect consistency from the president and his team. When the job numbers look good, we're supposed to believe they're the direct result of a "great spirit in the country," which was created by Trump's victory. When the job numbers look bad, they'll once again be "totally fiction" and "one of the biggest hoaxes in American politics."It's why Friday's reaction matters: it establishes a baseline of sorts. For now, this White House believes the official data is accurate and reliable. How long they'll maintain this posture is anybody's guess.