Companies have returned, but job growth overall has not surged

We found that Trump exaggerated the job growth (it’s not unprecedented), but he has a point about companies moving back to the country.

The most obvious way to look at this claim is to look at recent job growth rates. So we looked up month-to-month increases in jobs since 2011, when the economy started gaining jobs consistently after the Great Recession.

The monthly gains since Trump became president don’t look much different from the gains under President Barack Obama starting in 2011. The highest monthly job gain under Trump, 232,000, was exceeded in 28 separate months on Obama’s watch.

Next, we looked at the specific job gains under Trump from February 2017 to August 2017. We compared that period to the February-to-August job gains under Obama between 2011 and 2016.

We found the job gains under Trump were actually lower than each of the last six years of February-to-August job gains for Obama, except for 2012. This shouldn’t suggest that the pace of job creation this year is a disappointment. While one would expect big job gains in the immediate aftermath of a major recession as the economy catches up, substantial gains this long after the recession officially ended are far from guaranteed.

August 2017 was the eighty-third successive month of month-to-month job gains, easily a record. The longest previous spell of increases in employment was 48, in the period ending in June 1990, said Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Another way to look at Trump’s statement is jobs created by companies moving to the United States. Here, he has a stronger point.

A group called the Reshoring Initiative has been collecting data since 2010 on “reshoring,” a combination of U.S. companies bringing jobs back, and foreign companies deciding to locate jobs here.

The group released data in May 2017 showing that “for the first time in decades, more manufacturing jobs are returning to the United States than are going offshore.” It found a record-high 77,000 reshored jobs in 2016, bringing the total since 2010 to 338,000.

Those gains took place under Barack Obama.

We asked for the latest data, covering Trump’s time in office. According to the group, reshoring started going up substantially beginning in the fourth quarter of 2016 and has accelerated in 2017.

Between 2013 and 2015, the average number of reshored jobs announced per quarter was about 17,000, Harry C. Moser, the Kildeer, Ill., group’s founder and president, told PolitiFact. Then, during the first three quarters of 2016, that number fell to an average of 12,000. Then it picked up. In the fourth quarter of 2016, it almost doubled to 22,000. In the first quarter of 2017, it almost doubled again to 40,000. And the preliminary number for the second quarter of 2017 is even higher, 50,000.

Moser offered two explanation for such increases, based on his discussions with company executives. One is a more favorable exchange rate for the U.S. dollar. The other is the expectation that Trump will cut taxes and regulation, and might impose tariffs or otherwise punish goods produced overseas.

When checking statements like this, we usually note that presidential actions do not necessarily have much of an impact on job numbers, which are often driven by broader factors. However, in this case, an independent source has indicated Trump’s promises, rather than actual policies he delivered, drove companies to locate jobs in the United States. So it’s not unreasonable to say Trump deserves some credit.

Our ruling

Overall, job growth is strong, particularly this long after the recession, but the gains are not much different (and maybe a little worse) than they were during the last six years of Obama’s tenure. However, there is evidence that the number of jobs caused by “companies moving back” has increased under Trump, and one reason may be Trump’s promises, both of the carrot and stick variety. On balance, we rate the statement Half True.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Homepage