Trump to leave office with the worst jobs record since Herbert Hoover

January 12, 2021, 3:00 AM UTC

During the first three years of Donald Trump’s presidency, the economy did quite well. The unemployment rate hit a 50-year low, income growth doubled, and the economic expansion he inherited grew into the longest in American history.

But that all came to a shrieking halt when COVID-19 hit.

In a two-month period, February to April 2020, the unemployment rate soared to an 80-year high and the number of employed Americans fell from 152.5 million to 130.3 million. Those 22.2 million job losses set U.S. employment back to 1999 levels.

Since, the economy has moved from contraction to expansion and seen 12.3 million jobs return. However, it hasn’t been enough to offset the job losses that occurred during the pandemic.

That means that Trump will become the first post–World War II president to see employment fall during his presidency. It last occurred when Herbert Hoover left office in 1933 amid the early years of the Great Depression.

When Trump took office in Jan. 2017, U.S. employment was at 145.6 million. On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its final jobs report before the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. It shows in December there were 142.6 million employed Americans, down 3 million from Trump’s own inauguration.

For comparison purposes, Fortune annualized the job gain rates under all the past leaders since Reagan. During Obama’s eight years at the helm of the nation, U.S. employment maintained a 1% annualized return. That growth level did start to climb during the Trump years; as of February 2020 employment was increasing on a 1.5% annualized basis during his presidency. Yet in the final tally Trump will leave office having overseen a -0.5% annualized job growth rate.

Simply put: The historic jobs boom that candidate Trump promised on the campaign trail in 2016 was yet another victim of COVID.

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