Even if you can’t stand Trump, don’t hate on the economy
U.S. hiring remained strong during the first full month of the Trump administration, with the economy generating 235,000 jobs and the unemployment rate declining to 4.7 percent as more Americans were coaxed back to a healthier job market.
The February report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics covered the first complete month of Donald Trump’s presidency, making it a political football. He’ll likely tout the positive numbers, but he can’t really take credit. One of the biggest hiring jumps, in construction hiring — the industry added 58,000 — is likely linked to unseasonably warm weather in early February more than to any policy shifts brought on by the reality TV star turned leader of the free world.
Nonetheless, a spate of positive economic news could provide a path forward for the Trump administration, whose agenda has been bogged down amid internal power struggles and the unfolding scandal about contacts between Russia and members of Trump’s inner circle.
Still, Trump stitched together an Electoral College victory in part by bucking traditional economic thinking and promising to bring back manufacturing jobs to the struggling Rust Belt constituencies that handed him the White House. Manufacturing added 28,000 jobs in February. And average hourly earnings, a measure of wages, is up 2.8 percent over February 2016. (Although in inflation-adjusted terms, wages remain relatively flat.)
Any indication that Trump is delivering on economic promises, even if it’s not clear he had anything to do with it, could give the White House a lift —Trump started with the lowest-ever approval rating of any incoming president.
Of course, that would require Trump to acknowledge that the economic data collected by U.S. government statisticians is actually valid. During the campaign, he repeatedly questioned the validity of economic statistics, saying—among other things — that they were “totally fiction” and offering up his own view that the real unemployment rate could be around 42 percent.
Now that the economy is under his watch, he seems to have acquired a new appreciation for economic data, retweeting the Drudge Report’s trolling tweet about the jobs report Friday morning, which simply said “Great Again.”