Fact-checking claims about the stock market and jobs.
President Donald Trump unleashed yet another morning tweet on Monday, this time about the state of the economy, which he said is thriving.
“Highest Stock Market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages raising, border secure, S.C.: No WH chaos!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
The tweet, which came on the same morning the President formally installed General John Kelly as his new Chief of Staff, was likely in response to reports of chaos inside the West Wing that some fault for the administration’s legislative setbacks.
But is his tweet accurate? We did some fact checking, and found parts of it are, but others are not. The parts that are accurate also require some historical context. Here’s a look.
Highest stock market ever: True
Since Trump’s election in November, the stock market has hit several historical highs. In February, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high 10 days in a row, and broke the 21,000-mark in early March. The current year-to-date gains for the S&P 500 Index are higher than the average annual gains since 1928, according to Howard Silverblatt, a veteran market watcher at S&P Dow Jones Indices.
“The initial strong upswing happened right after the election,” Silverblatt said. “It was a quick reallocation in financials, feeling the new administration would be more friendly to them than the older one so we saw an initial reallocation.”
But Silverblatt also said that, in the six months since Trump has been in office, the market has not been paying as much attention to development’s in the nation’s capitol.
“The market has more focused on the actual fundamentals of the market,” he said, although he noted that the focus could turn back to Washington as tax reform assumes the spotlight. “l don’t think you can really argue that the market is not doing well, [but] whether there is a correlation between that and the policies could be discussed and debated. It’s still a young administration.”
Unemployment lowest in 17 years: False
Trump also tweeted about having the “best economic numbers in years.”
“Economic numbers” could encompass a range of issues, from inflation and interest rates to the number of jobs created during his tenure. Trump did not specify exactly what he was referring to, although an explanation of the stock market can be found above. But his claims about having the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years is not true. In June 2017, the national unemployment rate for Americans 16 and over was 4.4%, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This number is among the lowest since 2007, but not since 17 years ago. In July 2000, the unemployment rate was 4%, according to the BLS.
That is not to say however, that the unemployment rate has not been falling. It has, but this has been the case since October 2009, when that number reached a high of 10%, during the peak of the financial crisis. When former President Barack Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, the unemployment rate was 7.8%, before climbing to a high of 10% nine months later. But when Obama left office in January, the rate was 4.8%. So it has decreased under Trump, but that reduction has been relatively incremental.
Wages rising: True
BLS announced earlier this month that real average hourly earnings for all employees increased .2% from May to June, partially causing real average weekly earnings to rise .5% that month. This represents an annual increase of approximately 9 cents in real average hourly earnings, according to BLS, from $10.68 in June 2016 to $10.77 in June 2017. Average weekly earnings over that time period increased $24.30, from $881.33 in June 2016 to $905.63 in June 2017. The next earnings report will be released in mid-August.
However, like the unemployment statistics, this increase predates Trump’s presidency, although there is a persistent debate among economists about whether wages are increasing fast enough and arguments that show wages have stagnated for years. In January 2016, for instance, a year before Trump took office, BLS announced real average hourly earnings for employees increased .4%, and real average weekly earnings had increased .7%, higher figures than those from June 2017.