Trump’s Numbers on ‘Amazing’ Economy Sometimes Don’t Add Up


Tying latest progress to his coverage strikes, the president provided broad pronouncements and a litany of statistics. Some have been nicely based, others much less so.

Patricia CohenLinda Qiu
When President Trump spoke Friday after the quarterly launch of nationwide financial knowledge, he took credit score for a number of developments that had begun earlier than he took workplace. CreditSamuel Corum for The New York Times

When President Trump announced Friday that the American economic system had grown at an annual charge of four.1 % within the second quarter — an achievement he known as “amazing” — he included an extended listing of statements about how nicely the economic system has carried out on his watch.

He declared that the United States was “the economic envy of the entire world,” and certainly, the American economic system is in a comparatively sturdy place: Growth is accelerating, its dimension and variety make it extra resilient over all, and it’s less reliant than the economies of different main international locations on exports, which might assist it climate a commerce conflict extra simply. Growth in Japan, China and Europe has been slowing.

But a number of developments for which Mr. Trump took credit score have been underway — and in some instances extra pronounced — earlier than he took workplace. Other claims lacked context or basis.

Here are a number of the president’s remarks during the White House session, fact-checked:

“We’ve accomplished an economic turnaround of historic proportions.”

This requires context.

It does look as if the expansion charge has picked up meaningfully this 12 months and could also be on observe for one of the best 12 months of the decade-long restoration. But the economic system is constant the primarily upward trajectory established earlier than Mr. Trump took workplace, with some quarters rising a bit sooner and a few extra slowly. In a given quarter, the economic system exceeded four % annual progress 4 instances throughout the Obama administration, with the best degree — 5.three % — occurring within the third quarter of 2014. The jobless rate was 7.eight % when President Barack Obama took workplace in January 2009, and was four.eight % when he turned over the reins to Mr. Trump. In Mr. Trump’s 18 months in workplace, the jobless charge has fallen additional, and was four % final month. Gross domestic product has risen yearly for the previous 9 years.

“We have added 3.7 million new jobs since the election, a number that is unthinkable if you go back to the campaign. Nobody would have said it.”

This is deceptive.

While Mr. Trump’s determine is correct, his suggestion that the quantity would have been “unthinkable” shouldn’t be. In reality, the economic system added extra jobs in a comparable interval earlier than his election.

In the 19 months from December 2016 to June 2018, the economy added slightly below three.7 million jobs. In the 19 months earlier than Mr. Trump’s election, the economic system added four.three million jobs.

“We are actually on observe to hit a median G.D.P. annual progress of over three %, and it may very well be considerably over three %. Each level, by the way in which, means roughly $three trillion and 10 million jobs.”

This is unclear.

Given that the nation’s G.D.P. is slightly below $20 trillion a 12 months, and that about 160 million individuals are within the labor drive, these will increase would require a number of years of financial progress to attain. Mr. Trump didn’t give extra specifics.

“Ninety-five % of American producers are optimistic about their firm’s outlook. And that’s the best degree, additionally, in historical past.”


The National Association of Manufacturers launched the outcomes of its quarterly survey of manufacturers last month. Among the 568 respondents, 95 % registered a optimistic outlook for their very own firm, the best degree recorded within the survey’s 20-year historical past.

“More than 10 million additional Americans had been added to food stamps, past years. But we’ve turned it all around.”

This is exaggerated.

The variety of Americans within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program elevated by greater than 10 million throughout the recession. But enrollment has declined every year since a peak of 47.6 million in 2013. And the newest accessible knowledge doesn’t present a steeper decline below Mr. Trump.

From February 2017, Mr. Trump’s first full month in workplace, to this April, SNAP participation decreased by about 2.5 million individuals. In the 14 months earlier than that interval, participation declined by 2.eight million.

“In the first three months after tax cuts, over $300 billion poured back into the United States from overseas. We think it’s going to be, in the end, when completed, over $4 trillion will be back into our country.”

This requires context.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated that $306 billion was repatriated into the United States within the first quarter of this 12 months.

But estimates for the whole quantity of untaxed company earnings held offshore vary from $2.3 trillion to $2.8 trillion — a lot lower than Mr. Trump’s $four trillion determine.

Patricia Cohen covers the nationwide economic system. Since becoming a member of The Times in 1997 she has additionally written about theater, books and concepts. She is the creator of “In Our Prime: The Fascinating History and Promising Future of Middle Age.” @PatcohenNYT Facebook

Linda Qiu is a fact-check reporter, based mostly in Washington. She got here to the Times in 2017 from the fact-checking service PolitiFact. @ylindaqiu

A model of this text seems in print on , on Page A14 of the New York version with the headline: The Data Was Good, But Not ‘Historic’. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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