The White House Is Celebrating Jobs Numbers President Trump Used to Call ‘Phony’
The Trump Administration is celebrating the Department of Labor’s latest jobs report. But in the past President Trump has called the same monthly report “phony” and a “hoax.”
Friday morning the president retweeted a Drudge Report link to the numbers that said “GREAT AGAIN: +235,000.” (Employers added 235,000 new jobs in February, bringing the unemployment rate down to 4.7%, the report found.)
White House spokesman Sean Spicer tweeted that the report is “Great news for American workers” and “Not a bad way to start day 50 of this Administration.”
As the White House celebrates, here’s a look back at other times Trump publicly criticized the numbers.
‘Phony’ and a ‘joke’
During a press conference in 2015, Trump said the unemployment rate, then at 5.1%, was too low to accurately capture the real economic situation in the country. He called it “such a phony number” and said, “the number isn’t reflective … 5.3 percent unemployment, that is the biggest joke there is in this country … The unemployment rate is probably 20 percent, but I will tell you, you have some great economists that will tell you it’s a 30, 32. And the highest I’ve heard so far is 42 percent.”
PolitiFact rated Trump’s 42 percent claim “pants on fire” and wrote at the time, “Getting a percentage that high requires believing that being a high school, college or graduate student, a senior citizen, a stay-at-home parent, a job-training participant, or having a disability is no excuse for not holding down a job, or for working less than 40 hours in a week. The highest alternative unemployment-rate measure we could come up with that had any credibility was 16.4 percent, and even that exaggerated figure is only about one-third of the way to Trump’s 42 percent.”
‘One of the biggest hoaxes’
In August 2016, Trump once again claimed that the actual unemployment rate was higher than the jobs report reflected. “We have the lowest labor force participation rates in four decades,” Trump said in a speech to Detroit Economic Club during the general election campaign. “Fifty-eight percent of African-American youth are either outside the labor force or not employed. One in five American households do not have a single member in the labor force. These are the real unemployment numbers – the five percent figure is one of the biggest hoaxes in modern politics.”
‘Ninety-four million Americans’
During his first address to Congress, Trump threw out a startling statistic: “94 million Americans are out of the labor force.” But that figure is misleading. Like the other unemployment statistics Trump mentioned as a candidate, it includes retirees, students, stay-at-home parents and people who are disabled—people who are not actively looking for a job. If Trump were being consistent about using that definition, the Administration could not also tout the 4.7 percent unemployment rate from this month’s jobs report.
‘Not a good sign’
In December 2012, the jobs report said employers added 244,000 jobs, about 10,000 more than this week’s report that Trump seems excited about. But at the time, Trump, then a private citizen, was not pleased. “Today’s job report is not a good sign & we could be facing another recession,” he tweeted. “No real job growth. We need over 300K new jobs a month.”
And here’s a bonus mention for Trump’s new Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “The unemployment rate is not real,” Mnuchin told the Senate Finance Committee during his confirmation hearing in January. “I’ve traveled for the last year. I’ve seen this.”