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President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he had seen the light when it comes to the US’s official unemployment and jobs numbers.
For years, Trump attacked the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ reports on the US labor market, but now that he is in charge he’s singing a different tune.
Here’s what Trump said at a meeting with business leaders at the White House on Wednesday:
“And when we got those great reports, I kept saying, you know, those numbers – whether it’s 4.2, 4.3 – I said, for a long time they don’t matter. But now I accept those numbers very proudly. I say they do matter. But we’re doing very well with the jobs and the jobs reports, and we’re doing very well with companies. We’re really moving along.”
The unemployment rate was 4.4% as of the June jobs report, down from 4.7% when Trump took office and 4.6% the month he won the election.
While this decline, and the number of jobs created on a monthly basis during his time in office, has been pretty standard for the eight years of the economic recovery, Trump’s acceptance of these reports is new.
Back in March, Christopher Ingraham put together a list showing 19 occasions when Trump called the jobs-report numbers phony. Here are a few of those:
- On December 8, 2016, Trump said, “The unemployment number, as you know, is totally fiction.” On August 8, 2016, Trump said of the unemployment rate, “The 5% figure is one of the biggest hoaxes in modern politics.” On May 24, 2016, Trump said: “You hear a 5% unemployment rate. It’s such a phony number. That number was put in for presidents and for politicians so that they look good to the people.” On February 9, 2016, Trump said the unemployment rate was “phony” and the real number was “as high as 35 – as in fact, I heard recently, 42 percent.”
For what it’s worth, the BLS and other US federal data-collecting agencies are among the most rigorous in the world, and all of their methods are reasonably transparent. While there’s an argument to be made that the raw unemployment rate is not a full depiction of the state of the US labor market, it is safe to assume that it is not – and has never been – fabricated.