VERIFY – YOU’VE GOT QUESTIONS, WE’LL FIND ANSWERS
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President Donald Trump and his surrogates have spent the past week bragging about the U.S. economy.
And, for sure, there were good economic figures he could reference.
But what caught the attention of the 9NEWS’ Verify team was the way Trump’s team wove those figures into a narrative about the economy.
“President Trump has clearly steered the economy back in the right direction,” spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said in a Facebook video entitled “News of the Week.”
We’re going to test whether that statement holds up for each economic talking point McEnany made.
WHAT WE FOUND
Before we dive into the numbers, we wanted to note that the president and his team bragging about positive economic numbers is something politicians regularly do.
Mayors, Governors and Presidents love to take credit for good stuff in the economy and blame the bad stuff on a person or event that came before them.
For example, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock recently touted the city’s economic turnaround since he took office in 2011.
And Republicans disputed the idea President George W Bush inherited a booming economy. They point to multiple economic indicators that the Dot-com bubbling was bursting before Bush took the oath of office.
The first economic claim McEnany makes is the U.S. economy added more than 1 million jobs since Trump took office.
That’s true, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But is that proof of a change?
Let’s start with July’s job report that showed the economy added 209,000 jobs. It was better than predicted, but it’s not amazing or new.
President Barack Obama had a monthly jobs number that met or beat this 42 times during his presidency.
The economy also added slightly more jobs during Obama’s last six month in office, and it gained nearly 1.6 million jobs during a six-month stretch in 2014.
Basically, the U.S. has consistently added jobs since 2010.
The next claim McEnany made was “unemployment is at a 16-year low while consumer confidence is at a 16-year high.”
Again, these are both true facts, but they don’t show a change in direction.
If you look at a graph of unemployment for the past 10 years, you’ll see a steady decline from when it peaked at 10 percent in 2009.
And consumer confidence is on a similar trajectory in the opposite direction, according to The Conference Board. It’s a division of Nielson that studies consumer attitudes.
Both are the best they've been in a long time, but they haven’t changed directions.
The last economic claim McEnany makes in the video was about the Dow Jones. The Dow is up about 12 percent so far in the Trump presidency, and it’s hit a series of record highs overall.
The thing you need to know about the DOW is that we’re in the second longest running bull market on record (99 months).
A bull market is when share prices are consistently on the rise. The longest running bull market in U.S. history ran from 1990 to 2000.
And other, shorter bull markets produced bigger percentage gains than this one.
If you’re curious, the biggest single point gain in a single day happened in October 2008, and the DOW’s biggest percentage gain in a single day was in March 1933.
None of that takes away from the fact that things are still going well by most economic measures.
In team Trump's "real news" segment, the facts themselves aren't wrong. But the story they tell using those facts, doesn't hold up.