US President Donald Trump on Monday, 7 September, claimed that “10.6 million jobs had been created in four months” in the US, but the claim turned out to be inaccurate.
Reports suggest he may actually have presided over the worst jobs creation track record since World War II in the US history. In fact, the unemployment numbers are close to those around the post 2008 recession numbers.
Where is Trump Getting the Figure From?
According to data released by the US Department of Labour’s Bureau of Labor Statistics on 4 September, total non-farm payroll employment rose by 1.4 million in August. This comes on the back of total non-farm payroll employment rising by 1.8 million in July, 4.8 million in June and 2.5 million in May, data shows.
As the numbers provided above show, the total number of jobs created in the US in the last four months is about 10.5 million – close to the 10.6 million figure suggested by Trump.
However, the issue here is that Trump is leaving out other related facts and figures that would provide the full picture.
The Complete Jobs Picture
Firstly, jobs recovery in the US actually slowed in August, with the figure by which jobs rose in August (1.4 million) falling short of that of July (1.8 million) and far lesser than June, when 4.8 million jobs were added.
However, what Trump does not mention is that despite this addition of 10.6 million jobs, the US is still down by 11.5 million jobs from February, according to CNN.
According to CNN, as of August, as per data from the Labour Department, the US economy is down 4.7 million jobs since January 2017, when Trump took office as the US President.
Rate of Unemployment: What Trump Forgot to Mention
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate isn’t doing so well in the US either. According to the Labour Department’s August data, the unemployment rate declined by 1.8 percentage points to 8.4 percent in August, but despite a decline for four consecutive months, the rate is still 4.9 percentage points higher than in February.
In April, the unemployment rate had peaked at 14.7 percent, showing an increase of 10.3 percentage points, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and stay at home orders. According to the Labour Department, this is the highest rate and the largest over-the-month increase in the history of the series.
This means that this is the worst figure on record since monthly jobless statistics began to be recorded in 1948, eclipsing the previous record rate of 10.8 percent.
While it has been falling steadily since then, declining to 13.3 percent in May, 11.1 percent in June, and 10.2 percent in July, the August rate (8.4 percent) is below 10 percent for the first time since March 2020. Incidentally, 10 percent was also the peak of unemployment in October 2009, after the Great Recession of 2008.
And here it may be noted that the unemployment rate when Trump took office in January 2017 was 4.8 percent, so the current rate is still 3.6 percentage points more than that.
Further, among major worker groups in the US, while the unemployment rates declined in August, they still varied heavily. Labour Department data shows that while it stood at 7.3 percent for Whites, it was at 13.0 percent for Blacks, 10.5 percent for Hispanics and 10.7 percent for Asians.
Additionally, while the number of unemployed persons fell by 2.8 million to 13.6 million in August, it is still higher than in February by 7.8 million. Meanwhile, the number of permanent job losers increased by 534,000 to 3.4 million in August as well.
What of the Specifics?
The data from the Labour Department for August also has other interesting insights to offer on the employment situation. Of the jobs gain in that month, employment in government increased by 344,000, accounting for one-fourth of the over-the-month gain.
However, of this, 251,000 was in the federal government, which reflected the hiring of 238,000 temporary 2020 Census workers. These workers are likely to be laid off after work on the Census is completed. Meanwhile, overall government employment is still 831,000 below its February level.
While retail trade added 249,000 jobs in August, employment remains 655,000 lower than in February. Employment in professional and business services increased by 197,000, but more than half of the gain occurred in temporary help services (107,000) and the employment in this sector is still 1.5 million below its February level.
Similarly, though employment in leisure and hospitality also showed a gain in August (174,000), and despite job gains of a total of 3.6 million over the last four months, employment in this sector remains down by 2.5 million since February.
Employment in multiple other industries, such as education and health services, transportation and warehousing, manufacturing, financial activities etc, also remain much lower than their level in February.
According to a CNN report, ahead of the elections, Trump actually has the worst jobs numbers of any president, based on records going as far back as World War II.
All this brings into question whether the job situation in the American economy is actually as rosy as Trump made it seem with his tweet. The reality is that the US jobs market remains in a big hole.
(With inputs from US Labour Ministry data, CNN)
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