Leaving the White House for Camp David in December, President Trump was asked about the tax cuts his party was pushing through Congress.
“This really will mostly benefit the middle class and jobs,” he said. “Companies — companies are coming in. They’re pouring into the country. They’ve already started, and this will be great for jobs. It will be fantastic for the middle-income people, and for jobs.” Jobs would be the “greatest benefit” from the bill, according to Trump.
At a Cabinet meeting a few days later, he called the legislation a “jobs bill” because corporations were going to “start pouring into the country.” On Twitter, he promised that the “results will speak for themselves, starting very soon. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!” 2018 would be a “great year for Companies and JOBS” with the stock market “poised for another year of SUCCESS!” The month before, he’d insisted that the cuts would be “rocket fuel for the American economy.”
“Ultimately what does it mean?” he asked rhetorically at an event celebrating the bill. “It means jobs, jobs, jobs. So it will be a very special period of time. We’re in a special period of time.”
On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly report on employment in the United States The top-line figure, the number of jobs added to payrolls in July, was an increase of 157,000 — good, but lower than what economists had projected for the month.
Trump’s standard, though, was that jobs numbers would be well above normal, not in line with past trends or even slightly below. On that metric, the president’s promises, the jobs report was far from what was promised.
There are two measures of job growth included in the monthly report, one determined by surveying households and one that looks at payrolls. The former number tends to be more volatile than the latter, which is the one usually cited in reporting.
Since the beginning of President Barack Obama’s second term, both numbers have seen steady improvement. Remarkably steady improvement.
Over that period, the monthly change in the number of employees on private-sector payrolls has been an addition of about 210,000 jobs. In July, the addition was about 50,000 lower than that, though the report also included revisions that showed May and June above that mark.
Over the course of Trump’s presidency, the economy has added an average of 194,000 jobs per month, below the average since 2013. Since the tax cuts passed, the monthly average change has been 215,000 — slightly above the long-term average. It’s nothing exceptional, though; the first seven months of both 2014 and 2015 saw higher average job growth than the first seven months of this year.
One area where job growth has been better in the past year than in recent history was in manufacturing. Since January, the sector has added an average of 28,000 jobs a month. It’s the biggest year-over-year increase since early 1995.
But on another major focus of Trump’s economic policies, some bad news: The trade deficit grew in June for the first time in four months.
The economy is doing well. Job growth slightly below expectations paired with good unemployment numbers is not bad news at all.
The divide between Trump’s rhetoric and reality is worth pointing out, though, because the rhetoric was meant to sell a bill that had obvious and immediate advantages for businesses and the wealthy while promising benefits for middle-class Americans that largely haven’t been manifested.
Job growth continues apace. This isn’t what Trump promised.