President Donald Trump immediately retweeted right-wing media praise for a strong February 2017 jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which showed above-average job creation and a steady unemployment rate last month. Trump’s willingness to embrace the BLS monthly jobs report is at odds with his past approach -- at least over the last four years -- of slamming the number as “phony” and as merely a political tool of the Obama administration.
Economy Created 235,000 Jobs In February; Unemployment Was Little Changed At 4.7 Percent
BLS: 235,000 Jobs Were Created In February While The Unemployment Rate Fell To 4.7 Percent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the economy created 235,000 jobs in February 2017 and the unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent, building on a record-breaking 77-month streak of job creation dating to 2010:
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 235,000 in February, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment gains occurred in construction, private educational services, manufacturing, health care, and mining.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised down from +157,000 to +155,000, and the change for January was revised up from +227,000 to +238,000. With these revisions, employment gains in December and January combined were 9,000 more than previously reported. Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors. Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 209,000 per month. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 2017]
February 2017 Report Is The First BLS Data Release Of Trump’s Presidency. The February 2017 report, released on March 10, marked the first jobs and unemployment data released by the BLS to reflect labor market conditions during the Trump administration. Fox News and other right-wing outlets had mistakenly hyped positive jobs data for January, which were released on February 3, as “great” and “fantastic news” for Trump even though the reference week for those data ended before he took office. [Media Matters, 2/3/17]
Trump Retweets Matt Drudge: “GREAT AGAIN: +235,000.” Minutes after the jobs report was released, President Donald Trump’s official Twitter account retweeted right-wing conspiracy peddler Matt Drudge summarizing the jobs data as “GREAT AGAIN: +235,000.” Drudge linked to an article from Bloomberg that notes that the jobs report, which included a spike in construction employment, may have been buoyed by unseasonably warm weather last month:
Remember When Cable News Helped Trump Push His Conspiracy Theory That Jobs Numbers Were “Phony”?
February 2016: “It's A Phony Number, Bill. The Number Is 25 Percent, And Probably Higher Than That.” During an appearance on the February 5, 2016, edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, Trump, then a presidential candidate, falsely claimed that the real unemployment rate was “25 percent, and probably higher,” in response to the suggestion that President Barack Obama deserved credit for bringing the unemployment rate down to 4.9 percent -- its lowest point in eight years:
[Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 2/5/16]
August 2015: “If You Start Adding It Up, Our Real Unemployment Rate Is 42 Percent.” In an interview with Time magazine shortly after declaring his candidacy, Trump pivoted from discussing his xenophobic plan to erect a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to hyping exaggerated claims about the state of American unemployment. Trump recited a misleading statistic frequently promoted by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh that more than 90 million people “aren’t working” -- a figure that includes the unemployed, along with those not working by choice, such as retirees, students and people taking care of families -- before making the bogus claim that “our real unemployment rate is 42 percent.” From the August 20, 2015, interview:
Don’t forget in the meantime we have a real unemployment rate that’s probably 21%. It’s not 6. It’s not 5.2 and 5.5. Our real unemployment rate–in fact, I saw a chart the other day, our real unemployment–because you have ninety million people that aren’t working. Ninety-three million to be exact.
October 2014: The Official Unemployment Rate Is “Totally Phony.” The “Real” Rate Is “18, 19, Maybe Even 20 Percent.” During a fawning interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity that focused on the supposed “failures of the Obama economy,” Trump echoed years of misleading Fox News reporting by claiming that consistently improving labor market indicators were “totally phony.” He went on to claim that the “real” unemployment rate was “18, 19, maybe even 20 percent”:
[Fox News, Hannity, 10/28/14]
October 2012: Jack Welch’s Unfounded Jobs Conspiracy Theory Is “100 Percent Correct.” During an October 9, 2012, interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box, Trump claimed that former General Electric CEO Jack Welch was “100 percent correct” when days earlier he floated an unfounded conspiracy theory that the BLS had caved to political pressure from the White House to lower the unemployment rate in the lead-up to the 2012 election. Co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin pointed out that Obama opponents had no problem with the official measure when it fit in with anti-Obama talking points, but that they were questioning the statistic altogether now that it no longer fit their narrative:
[CNBC, Squawk Box, 10/9/12]
October 2012: There Was “A Lot Of Monkey Business” At BLS To Rig Unemployment Numbers. During an October 8, 2012, interview with Fox & Friends, which began with hype of the so-called “real unemployment rate” (a BLS figure that includes so-called “discouraged workers”), Trump said he agreed with Welch’s claim that the “Chicago guys” in the Obama administration had rigged the unemployment numbers to atone for a bad debate performance. Trump claimed, without any evidence, that there was “a lot of monkey business” and predicted that the numbers would be readjusted to “8.2 or more” after the election had passed. (The revised unemployment rate for that month was actually 7.8 percent.):