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Huckabee Sanders apologizes for false statement about black employment

When asked if a tape of Trump using the n-word exists, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she "can't guarantee anything." (Video: Reuters, Photo: Jabin Botsford/Reuters)

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders apologized late Tuesday for wrongly stating that President Trump has created three times as many jobs for black workers as President Barack Obama did.

At a news conference Tuesday, Sanders said Obama created 195,000 jobs for African Americans during his eight years in office.

"When President Obama left after eight years in office — eight years in office — he had only created 195,000 jobs for African Americans,” Sanders told reporters. “President Trump in his first year and a half has already tripled what President Obama did in eight years."

Sanders’s statement was false. According to official statistics, black employment in the United States increased by nearly 3 million jobs from January 2009 through January 2017. From January 2017 through July of this year, black employment has increased by about 700,000 jobs.

Later Tuesday, the White House Council of Economic Advisers took responsibility for the mistake and published new data comparing black job creation following Obama’s elections in 2008 and 2012 with black job creation following Trump’s election in 2016.

“Apologies for @WhiteHouseCEA’s earlier miscommunication to [Sanders],” the CEA said on Twitter.

Sanders later followed with a statement of her own.

“Correction from today’s briefing: Jobs numbers for Pres Trump and Pres Obama were correct, but the time frame for Pres Obama wasn’t,” she said on Twitter. “I’m sorry for the mistake, but no apologies for the 700,000 jobs for African Americans created under President Trump.”

New data produced by the council compared black employment losses and gains in the 20 months following Obama’s election (-636,000 jobs) and the 20 months following his reelection (831,000 jobs) to the 20 months following Trump’s election (848,000).

The selection of dates is somewhat unusual because it takes into account job gains or losses before Trump and Obama took office. In any event, economists generally regard a president’s ability to shape employment trends as limited.

“If you start the clock on Election Day, Trump’s first 20 months slightly outperformed the beginning of Obama’s second term in African American employment growth,” said Ernie Tedeschi, who served as an economist in Obama’s Treasury Department. “If you start the clock on Inauguration Day, Obama was slightly ahead. But the real bottom line is that the pace of jobs growth hasn’t changed dramatically between the two presidents.”

Sanders’s original answer came in response to questions about allegations that Trump used a racial slur.