Some folks want to know why the media isn't giving President Donald Trump credit for the growth in new jobs and in the stock market since he took office. Indeed, new jobs have been created — over a million — since Trump's inauguration, and the stock market is doing well, too. However, Trump's job growth is the same, if not slightly less, than the job growth he inherited from President Barack Obama. The same is true regarding the stock market.
While Trump called Obama's economy "a disaster" during the presidential campaign, in fact, Trump inherited a strong and growing economy from Obama which continues today. President Obama inherited the Great Recession of 2008. Still, under Obama, the unemployment rate dropped from a high of 10 percent during the Great Recession, to 4.8 percent in his last month in office. During Trump's first seven months in office, the unemployment rate has continued to decrease and currently stands at 4.4 percent.
Trump called the lowering unemployment rate under Obama fake news. He stated that the Labor Department was underestimating the number of unemployed people and once stated that the true unemployment rate was around 40 percent. Then, immediately after taking office, Trump bragged about the same low unemployment numbers put out by the same government officials. The same data were "rigged" under Obama, but "great" under Trump.
In regards to actual job growth, President Bill Clinton holds the record for 22.9 million new jobs. President Ronald Reagan comes in second with 16.1 million new jobs, and President Obama comes in third with 11.3 million new jobs. This includes two years of significant job losses during Obama's first years in office during the Great Recession. Obama's last month in office, however, marked 75 consecutive months of job growth — the longest in U.S. history.
So how is President Trump doing? According to the Labor Department, job growth during his first six months in office has held steady with Obama's last year in office. All total, Obama added about 2.24 million jobs in 2016 or about 187,000 jobs per month. During his first six months in office, Trump averaged about 184,000 jobs per month for a total of 1.10 million jobs so far. If job growth continues at this rate, Trump should be able to claim about 2.2 million new jobs by the end of his first year in office.
In summary, while job growth continues to be strong under Trump, it has not increased compared to the growth that was already taking place under Obama. In fact, job growth has slowed slightly under Trump (187,000 per month to 184,000 per month) compared to Obama's last year.
Trump frequently takes credit for record growth in the stock market during his time in office. It is true that stocks continue to do well under Trump. However, the stock market has been growing at record pace since 2009. Trump reminds me of the guy born on second base and thinks he hit a double. Those who brag about "record" stock prices under Trump fail to mention that the stock market was already breaking records under Obama.
Here are the numbers: The Dow closed at about 7,949 points on Obama's Inauguration Day and at 19,732 eight years later on his last day in office. This is an impressive 148-percent increase over Obama's eight years or 18.5 percent per year. The S&P 500 closed at about 805 on Obama's Inauguration Day and at 2,264 on Obama's last day in office. Again, an impressive 181-percent increase or a 22.6 percent average increase per year (1.88 percent per month). On Trump's Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017, the S&P closed at 2,271. Eight months later on Aug. 20, it closed at 2,473, an 8.89 percent increase (1.48 percent per month). Again, Trump has maintained about the same, or slightly lower, stock market growth that he inherited from Obama.
There is one area where Trump has outperformed Obama. The man who tweeted (October 2014) "Can you believe that, with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf," leaves Obama in the dust when it comes to the number of days on the golf course. According to Newsweek, of his 2,920 days in office, Obama spent 333 or 11 percent of them on the golf course for at least part of the day. During his first six months in office, Trump has spent 40 days or 22 percent of his days on a golf course.
Let's be sure to give credit where credit is due.
Tom Zirpoli writes from Westminster. He is program coordinator of the human services management graduate program at McDaniel College. His column appears Wednesdays. Email him at email@example.com.