Republicans at the party’s National Convention claimed they “built the greatest economy in the world.” Let’s take a look at the facts.
Wednesday night Vice President Mike Pence and speakers at the National Republican Convention (RNC) claimed that in 2017 President Donald Trump took over a “dismal” economy from Barack Obama and in just four years in the United States people of all races and backgrounds were, as Republican Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota expressed, “lifted out of poverty.”
According to Pence, “four years ago we inherited… an economy struggling to break out of the slowest recovery since the Great Depression.” He went on to claim that in the Trump administration’s first three years, “we built the greatest economy in the world.”
What the Numbers Say
But one must take a clear look at the numbers. When Obama took office in 2009, a whopping 784,000 jobs had been lost in one month alone. By the time he left office, new jobs were created for 76 straight months and unemployment had been cut by more than half, among other gains.
In fact, Trump took office with unemployment at a low 4.7%, steady job growth and a falling federal budget deficit.
In July 2020, after four years of Trump’s administration, the U.S. unemployment rate stood at 10.2% after reaching a peak of 14.7% in April, when more than 23 million workers were let go from their jobs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, flinging millions into poverty. And these numbers don’t include people who had finished collecting unemployment benefits, but didn’t find a new job, as they disappear from the data.
This happened despite assurances from the White House that the growing health crisis would not hurt the economy, and Trump’s reassurances, as late as August 2020, that the virus would “go away like things go away.”
But as evidenced by the latest numbers from health officials, which show the United States leading the world in confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths, the virus didn’t go away. Instead, it has caused millions of businesses across the country to close permanently or let their employees go.
At this time, there are 14.8 million Americans collecting unemployment, while just 2 million were receiving jobless aid when Trump took office. And a new poll by Latino Decisions has revealed that among the Latinos surveyed, nearly 50% have had their pay cut, lost a job, or have closed a business they owned due to COVID.
In fact, Florida saw one of the highest increases in initial claims for the week ending Aug. 15, rising by more than 11,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
No Government “Shrinkage”
Another speaker, Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota claimed Donald Trump has “shrunk government and put money back into the pockets of hardworking, ordinary Americans.” But the government has not gotten smaller; in fact, it has grown: Federal spending was 20.6% of the gross domestic product in 2016, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget. And while that number has gone up and down, in 2019 it stood at 20.8 percent.
Economic Growth Under Obama vs. Trump
According to an analysis by Forbes, Obama’s last three years in office had growth rates as high as 3.06%. For Trump, the high point was 2.83% in 2018. In 2019 the adjusted growth rate was only 1.99%. This is less than Obama’s three last years in office.
The Numbers Add Up
Despite Republican claims that President Trump supercharged the weak economy he inherited from Obama, when compared, statistics show that under Trump’s stewardship the economy has not been better than under President Barack Obama.