How Trump's three years of job gains compares to Obama's

Posted February 6, 2020 12:12 p.m. EST

— President Donald Trump says he is particularly pleased with the jobs created during his three years in office.

"We're producing jobs like you have never seen before in this country," he said during a recent speech in Michigan.

But you don't have to go back far to find three years of better job growth. Just to back to the previous three years under Barack Obama.

During Trump's first 35 months in office, the US economy has gained 6.69 million jobs. But during a comparable 35-month period at the end of Obama's tenure, employers added 7.96 million jobs, or 19%, more than what has been added since Trump took office.

The average monthly gain so far under Trump is 191,000 jobs. During the last 35 months under Obama, employers were adding an average of 227,000 jobs a month.

On Friday, the Labor Department will report January job growth, concluding the first three years of the Trump administration. Economists surveyed by Reuters forecast that employers added 160,000 in January, which would be a bit better than the 145,000 jobs added in December.

The job record under Trump is far better than the job record during Obama's first 35 months in office, when the economy lost 1.2 million jobs. But Obama took office in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. In the final job reading before Obama took office, the economy lost 783,000 jobs in that month alone. And it continued to lose jobs throughout the rest of 2009 as Obama's economic policies went into effect.

By comparison, Trump took office with the labor market in relatively good shape, with unemployment at 4.7%, and a string of 76 straight months of job gains. The labor market has clearly continued to improve. Unemployment of 3.5% is at a 50-year low now. But it is a continuation of an improving job market, not the turnaround that occurred in the early years of the Obama administration.

And Trump's job record is not unique. A gain of more than 6.7 million jobs during a 35-month period has been common during the 80 years that the Labor Department has counted jobs. There are hundreds of overlapping 35-month periods of better growth on record.

At this point in his first and only term, Jimmy Carter had enjoyed a gain of about 10 million jobs. Employers added 8.5 million jobs during the first 35 months of Bill Clinton's term and 7.6 million jobs during the first 35 months of Lyndon Johnson's tenure, even though the labor force at that time was less than half the size of what it is today.

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