Fact Check: Trump’s Claims on the Economy


The United States economy is slowing and wage growth has slipped, but household incomes are rising and the unemployment rate is at a half-century low. This is the complicated — and somewhat contradictory — state of the American economy that President Trump painted over with a big smiley face at the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday.

In remarks and a question-and-answer session, Mr. Trump continued to portray himself as a savior of what had been a moribund economy, trumpeting job gains and increased worker pay on his watch. To support his claims, he unleashed a flurry of economic statistics. Some were accurate, some were misleading and some appear nowhere close to the truth.

Here are some of the president’s claims.

What the president said

The United States is a member of the World Trade Organization, which adjudicates disputes between nations in global trade. Mr. Trump claimed that before he took office, the organization never ruled in favor of America in those disputes: “They would rule against us because they said: ‘Hey, don’t worry about the United States. They are the stupid people. Don’t worry. Rule against them.’”

The World Trade Organization’s history of decisions shows this to be untrue. The United States usually prevails in cases that it brings before the global body.

As Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics explained:

What the president said

The unemployment rate has fallen to half-century lows in recent years. It was 3.6 percent in October — matching the lowest rate since 1969. So that’s actually 50 years. The president was off by a year, but broadly correct about the historic nature of the low rate.

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What the president said

You would need — according to a past administration representative at the highest level of that past administration — you would need a magic wand to bring back manufacturing jobs. Well, we brought them back and we brought them back to over 600,000 manufacturing jobs as of today.

Here, Mr. Trump is off by a lot. The Labor Department shows that, through October, the United States has added 443,000 manufacturing jobs since Mr. Trump took office. His number is off by more than 25 percent.

What the president said

After losing 60,000 — can you believe that — factories under the previous two administrations, America is now gaining over 10,000 brand-new, beautiful factories and many, many more than that want to come back in because under my administration, we are producing jobs and incentives for these companies to come back.

Mr. Trump slightly overstated the number of manufacturing establishments lost under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama: It was about 55,000, according to the Labor Department, and would have been worse if the sector had not begun to rebound in 2013.

Mr. Trump is correct that since he took office, the United States has added more than 10,000 new manufacturing establishments, as measured by the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. They are mostly small businesses. Nearly all of those establishments — more than 9,000 — employ zero to five workers, the statistics show.

What the president said

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She has now created 14 million jobs and they are being trained by these great companies. The greatest companies in the world because the government can’t train them. It’s a great thing.

In his zeal to praise his daughter, Ivanka Trump, who is co-chairwoman of a White House initiative to improve work force training, Mr. Trump claimed that she had “created” 14 million jobs. She has not.

What Ms. Trump has done is help lead an effort that has resulted in private companies pledging to give “over 12 million new education and training opportunities for American students and workers over the next five years,” the White House says. That’s not the same thing as creating jobs.



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