Political News

Fact check: Exaggerating again, Trump claims four non-record economic figures are records

Posted July 6, 2020 6:41 p.m. EDT

— President Donald Trump loves to announce new records. Even when they are not actual records.

Trump has a long history of exaggerating figures that would have sounded impressive if he had just stated them accurately. He did it again in his triumphant Thursday speech about the expectations-beating June jobs report, which showed a gain of 4.8 million jobs last month after a gain of 2.7 million in May.

Though the report showed that the economy had not come close to returning to its pre-pandemic level -- more than 22 million jobs were lost in March and April -- there's no doubt it was full of good news Trump could have recited verbatim.

He did correctly identify some figures as records, such as the overall June job increase of 4.8 million and the 3 million increase for women. But he also falsely claimed that four separate non-records, two from the jobs report and two from other economic reports, were records.

Consumer confidence

Trump said: "We have -- consumer confidence has risen 12 points since April, an all-time high. Think of that."

Facts First: The 12.2-point increase in consumer confidence from May to June was not an all-time high; nor was the 12.4-point increase from April to June. The actual level of consumer confidence in June was also not an all-time high.

Starting in 1978, when the business organization The Conference Board began conducting its consumer confidence survey on a monthly basis, the all-time record one-month increase is a 21.7-point jump from February 1991 to March 1991, said Lynn Franco, the organization's senior director for economic indicators and surveys. "The last time we had an increase greater than 12.2 was in November 2011, with an increase of 14.3," Franco said.

Consumer confidence stood at 98.1 in June. The record is 144.7, in May 2000. The confidence figure was higher than 100 for the entire Trump presidency until the pandemic crash of this year; it stood at 132.6 in February.

Trump could have accurately boasted that the increase from May to June was one of the nine largest one-month spikes since 1978, according to Franco. Instead, he made an objectively false claim.

Hispanic employment

Trump said: "Hispanic employment is up by 1.5 million jobs, a record by a lot."

Facts First: The June increase in Hispanic employment -- 1.47 million jobs -- was not a record increase at all, let alone a record "by a lot." Hispanics recorded a slightly bigger gain, of 1.526 million jobs, in January 2000.

Again, this was a needless falsehood: Trump could have correctly boasted of a near-record increase.

Also, amid Trump's triumphant rhetoric, it's also worth noting that the Hispanic unemployment rate was 14.5% in June even with the big jobs gain -- down from 17.6% in May but still more than 4 percentage points higher than the 10.1% rate for White Americans and worse than the Hispanic rate for any point between 1983 and the 2020 pandemic.

African American employment

Trump said: "African American workers made historic gains, the likes of which we've never had before, with 404,000 new jobs in June. That's a record, and that's the highest number ever."

Facts First: The 404,000-job gain for African Americans in June was not a record. The actual record was a 450,000-job gain in February 2018.

Once more, Trump had an easy accurate boast available here. He could have said that the June increase was second only to a record month that occurred under his leadership.

There is, again, also some important context to note. Even with the 404,000-job gain, the African American unemployment rate was 15.4% in June -- an improvement from 16.8% in May but still more than 5 percentage points higher than the rate for White Americans and worse than the African American rate for any point between early 2012 and the 2020 pandemic.

Manufacturing data

Trump said: "The latest ISM Manufacturing Report rose 10 percentage points, with new orders jumping a remarkable 25 percentage points -- all a record."

Facts First: This was not "all a record": Trump was right that the increase in new manufacturing orders was a record, but the increase in the general manufacturing index was not.

The 24.6-point increase in the Institute for Supply Management New Orders Index between May and June was the largest one-month spike since record-keeping began in 1948. But the 9.5-point increase in the ISM's PMI index, its headline number, was the largest since a 10.5-point increase in 1980, not an all-time high.

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