These are dire times indeed; one can no longer put too much stock in what comes out of President Trump’s mouth, every utterance must be taken with a pinch of salt and then, fact checked.
In the latest instalment of Lies Trump Tells, the American President has taken credit for having the best economic numbers in years, the lowest unemployment in 17 years and the highest business spirit ever. But are these statements accurate?
Highest Stock Market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages raising, border secure, S.C.: No WH chaos!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2017
Here are the facts:
Yes, the Stock Market has been the highest ever
Fortune observes that “since Trump’s election in November, the stock market has hit several historical highs. In February, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high 10 days in a row, and broke the 21,000-mark in early March.”
Similarly, last week Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed record high of nearly 22,000. Trump wasted no time tweeting “Highest Stock Market EVER”.
According to Howard Silverblatt, a veteran market watcher at S&P Dow Jones Indices, “the current year-to-date gains for the S&P 500 Index are higher than the average annual gains since 1928. The initial strong upswing happened right after the election. It was a quick reallocation in financials, feeling the new administration would be more friendly to them than the older one so we saw an initial reallocation.”
However, Silverblatt also pointed out that the market has not been taking its cue from Washington in the past six months of Trump’s presidency. So while Trump can celebrate like economic gains like these, he should note that it’s not exactly happening because of him.
Yes, wages are rising
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, weekly wages spiked from $350 to $354 from the first quarter to the second quarter of this year. Trump may jump at this 1.1 percent rise growth but as far as Nelson Schwartz is concerned, it is short of the pace Trump had promised.
Fortune further corroborates Trump’s wage increase claims:
“BLS announced earlier this month that real average hourly earnings for all employees increased .2% from May to June, partially causing real average weekly earnings to rise .5% that month. This represents an annual increase of approximately 9 cents in real average hourly earnings, according to BLS, from $10.68 in June 2016 to $10.77 in June 2017. Average weekly earnings over that time period increased $24.30, from $881.33 in June 2016 to $905.63 in June 2017. The next earnings report will be released in mid-August.”
That’s all well and good, but has president Trump economic policies brought about this positive change? Alan Blinder, an economist at Princeton University, says no, as these developments have their foundation in Obama’s administration.
“As seemingly everyone but Trump recognizes, his economic policy achievements to date have been approximately zero,” Mr Blinder said.
No, unemployment has not been the lowest in 17 years
These are the latest estimates from BLS showing a decline in unemployment from 4.4 in June 2017 to 4.3 last month.
Fortune, however, disputes Trump’s claims about having the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years. BLS records that in July 2000, the unemployment rate was 4%. In fact, “the unemployment rate was lower in every month from June 2000 to March 2001. And in four months in 2005 and 2006, the unemployment rate was also 4.4 percent.”
They clarify that that the unemployment rate has indeed been falling, but it began under Obama, who successfully took the numbers from 10% when he assumed office to 4.8% at the time he left. Basically, Trump is reaping the benfits of Obama’s work.
No, the 2.6 percent growth in GDP is not “a number that nobody thought they’d see for a long period of time.”
During a Cabinet meeting on July 31, Trump boasted:
“We have a GDP, on Friday — it got very little mention, although I guess in the business areas it did. But it got, I think, very little mention. 2.6 is a number that nobody thought they’d see for a long period of time. Remember, I was saying we will hit three at some point in the not-too-distant future, and everybody smiled and they laughed and they thought we’d be at one. And 2.6 is an unbelievable number, announced on Friday.”
Factcheck.org calls trump’s claims on the GDP growth “puffery”, and goes on to state that the statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows a higher growth of 2.6% in eight of the last 18 quarters. Furthermore, a higher than 2.6% growth was forecast. “The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, for example, initially forecast in May that the second quarter GDP growth would be 4.3 percent” while the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on the 3rd of March made an initial projection of a 2.91 percent GDP growth in the second quarter, then later revised it.
We don’t think it would ever happen, but it will be wise for Trump to stop stretching the truth about his so-called economic numbers.