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Trump takes credit for 2.4 million jobs and wage hikes. Data doesn’t back that up

President Trump took a victory lap for creating millions of jobs and raising worker pay, but the statistics he touted were a stretch.

“Since my election we’ve created 2.4 million jobs,” he said.

It’s weird to look at jobs since the election. Typically, the clock starts from a president’s inauguration in January since the prior president’s policies are still in place until the inauguration. Trump is also rounding up: The difference between U.S. employment in October 2016 and December 2017 is 2.37 million jobs.

[How healthy is Trump’s economy?]

A better measure of Trump’s track record on jobs is that 2.1 million jobs were added last year. It’s a healthy amount of hiring, especially given the United States is in the midst of one of the longest expansions in history. But it is less than in prior years. Under President Obama, 2.2 million jobs were added in 2016, 2.7 million jobs in 2015 and 3 million jobs in 2014. In fact, last year’s job growth was the slowest since 2012.

Trump also said, “After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages.” Wages are only growing at a rate of 2.5 percent right now, according to the Labor Department, the exact same pace as the end of the Obama administration. Wages are growing at a slower rate than the historical average, and both parties agree pay needs to be higher. But that has not happened yet.

Stephen Moore, an economic adviser to Trump’s campaign, put it this way in a New York Times op-ed this week: “Ultimately, the most important statistical indicator for Mr. Trump will be wages for middle-income workers… So far, wages and salaries haven’t bumped up much.”

In his speech, Trump touted the fact that many companies have announced bonuses for workers because of the recently enacted tax legislation. Those bonuses are meaningful to the workers receiving them, but they are only one-time payments — typically of $1,000. They are not actual wage increases.

The White House says nearly 3 million workers have received some sort of bonus or extra perk because of the tax law, but that is a small proportion of the 154 million employed Americans.

Fact-checking and analysis of Trump’s State of the Union 2018 address

The Washington Post is live-blogging President Trump’s first official State of the Union address to Congress tonight. The speech begins at 9p.m. Eastern time and the president is expected to be, well, presidential.

Post national reporters Ashley Parker and Michael Scherer write that Trump aides say “he will deliver a unifying speech on American values and patriotism, one that touches on everything from the just-passed Republican tax plan and the new immigration proposal to trade, infrastructure and national security. The question is whether the swirl of conflict and diversion that has monopolized so much of his first year in office will distract from the message he is trying to deliver.”

The Post’s chief congressional scribe, Paul Kane, points out that it’s not just Trump whose behavior can be unpredictable — it’s also that of “mercurial” congressional Republicans when it comes to the president.

From Paul: “Sometimes they are in bitter fights with Trump, challenging his nationalist policy approach as an affront to traditional conservatism while also questioning his mental fitness for office. Other times they drift into a deep public swoon for the president that seems to directly contradict their previous criticism.”

Check back here for frequent updates on the speech, including real-time fact-checking and analysis of what the president says on key issues like the economy, national security and infrastructure.

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