PolitiFact: Trump right on jobless rate, but it was already dropping


President Donald Trump and his team found several things to tout from the newest round of employment numbers.

On Jan. 5, the day the new numbers were released, presidential daughter and White House official Ivanka Trump tweeted, “The unemployment rate for African Americans fell to 6.8 percent, the lowest ever recorded. We are working hard to bring this rate down even further.”

The president himself echoed that talking point in his own tweet Jan. 8.

He’s right on the numbers but leaves out economic gains for those groups that came under a Democratic administration.

In December 2017, African-American unemployment fell to 6.8 percent. That’s a record low since the statistic was first calculated in 1972. The previous record low was 7 percent in April 2000 and September 2017.

Hispanic unemployment also dropped by a full percentage point, from 5.9 percent in December 2016 to 4.9 percent in December 2017.

As the president said, this is close to the all-time low, which was 4.8 percent in October and November 2017.

The tweet would have been accurate if Trump had stopped after the numbers. But his dig on the Democrats missed the fact that the unemployment rate for both groups declined dramatically on President Barack Obama’s watch.

Black unemployment peaked at 16.6 percent in April 2010, when Obama was president. It then fell by more than half to 7.8 percent by the time Obama left office in January 2017.

Hispanic unemployment, meanwhile, peaked at 13 percent in August 2009, then fell to 5.9 percent at the end of Obama’s term in January 2017 — also a drop of more than half.

We should note that presidents don’t deserve either full credit or full blame for the unemployment rate on their watch. The president is not all-powerful on economic matters; broader factors, from the business cycle to changes in technology to demographic shifts, play major roles.

The White House did not reply to an inquiry for this article.

Our ruling

Trump is right about the low unemployment rates for both blacks and Hispanics today. But his slam that the Democrats “did nothing” in this regard is an exaggeration. We rate his statement Mostly True.



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