Here’s what history will record: More jobs were created in Obama’s last two years (5.1 million) than in Trump’s first two years (4.9 million).
The number of people working in the U.S. has increased fairly steadily for as long as such figures have been tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s to be expected as the population rises. There have been exceptions, notably during recessions, when the number of people employed has declined even as the population increased. That’s what happened during the Great Recession. The chart below shows the number of employed people starting in December 2007, the start of the recession.
The math is roughly right, but it needs context. Manufacturing jobs did decline by 192,000 under Obama, and since Trump’s election, they have increased by 373,000.
However, Obama’s numbers look particularly bad because he took office as the Great Recession was in full force — a situation Trump, in his short tenure, has avoided.
Once manufacturing jobs hit rock bottom in February 2010, they increased by 916,000 by the time Obama left office.
That said, the rate of increase has been fairly stable since around 2010, regardless of the president in office.
Manufacturing Jobs — Manufacturing jobs increased under Trump, just at a rate slightly faster than total employment.
The number rose by 453,000 between Trump’s inauguration and March. That followed a net decrease of 192,000 under Obama.
The increase since January 2017 amounts to 3.7 percent, compared with the 3.5 percent increase in overall employment. The number of manufacturing jobs is still 920,000 below where it was in December 2007, at the start of the Great Recession.
Growth under Trump has averaged far less than the 4 percent to 6 percent per year that he promised repeatedly, both when he was a candidate and also as president.
The economy grew only 2.2 percent during his first year, and 2.9 percent for all of 2018, according to the BEA. It spurted briefly to a 4.2 percent annual rate in the second quarter of 2018, prompting Trump to proudly claim credit. But it then fell back to a 3.4 percent rate in the third quarter and a 2.2 percent rate in the final quarter.
Other leading economists tend to agree that economic growth is slowing. For the business and university economists who offered an annual GDP forecast to the Wall Street Journal’s monthly economic survey in March, the average prediction was for 2.1 percent growth this year and 1.7 percent next year. The National Association for Business Economics’ March survey was only a little more optimistic, producing a median forecast of 2.4 percent growth for this year and 2.0 percent in 2020.
The economy added 5.1 million jobs; unemployment fell to the lowest rate in nearly half a century.
By applying that percentage to prior years, median household income was $61,966 in 1999 and $61,421 in 2007, compared to $61,372 in 2017.
“Without adjusting for the change in the income questions, 2017 has the highest median household income on record (since 1967). When you adjust for the change, median household income in previous years was just as high,” explains the Census Bureau website.
Black unemployment did reach a record low, 5.9 percent, in May. That rate has since risen to 6.6 percent in July.
Despite some recent progress, the black unemployment rate is now nearly double that of whites, which is 3.4 percent. The most dramatic drop in black unemployment came under President Barack Obama, when it fell from a recession high of 16.8 percent in March 2010 to 7.8 percent in January 2017.
Latino unemployment fell to 4.4 percent, its lowest ever, last October, and Asian unemployment fell to a record low of 2.2 percent in May. But Latino and Asian unemployment also have increased, in part because of the government shutdown, which elevated unemployment last month.
The unemployment rate for women is not the best in 71 years.
According to the Labor Department, the women’s unemployment rate fell last month to 3.1%. That’s just the lowest since October 1953, or 66 years ago, when it also was 3.1%. The lowest on record was 2.4% in May 1953.
More young Americans -- defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as people between the ages of 16 to 24 -- are working this summer, pushing the unemployment rate for the group to a 52-year low. But there's a catch: the labor force participation rate for young Americans remains below its 1989 peak.
But the labor-force participation rate stands at 60.6 percent, far below its peak of 77.5 percent in July 1989, the BLS added. This rate illustrates the share of 16 to 24 year olds who are working or looking and available for work.
For 16-to-19 year-olds in particular, participation is at a record low. Just 35 percent of that age group is looking for work or working—the lowest figure since record-keeping started in 1948.
In addition, Borjas’ findings would apply to a small fraction of U.S. jobholders today, only about 6.2 percent of whom lack a high school degree.
The veterans’ unemployment rate fell to 2.9 percent in October, the latest data available, but that is still above the 2.7 percent rate reached in October 2017, also under Trump. That was the lowest joblessness rate for veterans in nearly 17 years.
Veterans’ unemployment has fallen mostly for the same reasons that joblessness has dropped generally: strong hiring and steady economic growth for the past eight years.
In May 2000, veterans’ unemployment dropped to a low of 2.3 percent, and he hasn’t reached that.
In any event, it’s impossible for Trump to claim an achievement not seen in 21 years on veterans’ unemployment. The data on joblessness for vets only go back 18 years, to 2000.
In January 2017, 42.7 million people were using food stamps. That declined to 38.6 million in September 2018, a drop of 4.1 million, not nearly 5 million.
Monthly comparisons don’t mean much because the numbers go up and down over the short term. A more meaningful measure is how many people were using food stamps, on average, over the course of a year.
By that measure, the food stamp rolls declined by only 1.8 million in the 2017 and 2018 budget years. Even that period, which began in October 2016, includes a substantial drop that happened under Obama. Go back to October 2015, the start of the 2016 budget year, and the drop is 3.9 million.