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.
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.