Friday, November 1, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lied even more blatantly than usual about jobs numbers.

The U.S. economy added 128,000 jobs in October, according to preliminary figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This isn't terrible, but it's well below the number needed to keep up with population growth.

Trump promptly tweeted out that the United States had gained 303,000 jobs—an exaggeration of 237%.

Commentators tried to make sense of the numbers all morning, which don't add up to 303,000 even with the additional numbers (never a part of normal BLS figures) that Trump added on. 

Eventually, Trump advisor Larry Kudlow was brought out to offer one possible interpretation: that Trump was counting the actual numbers, plus jobs that the economy might have added if not for the GM strike, plus upward revisions from previous months, plus credit for 20,000 temporary census workers leaving their jobs. (There's no reason to believe they all found new jobs, though.)

This is a little like balancing your household budget by counting the money you earned, plus salary from a second job you were laid off from, plus a raise you think you might have gotten if you'd kept that job, plus salary from previous months.

On Wednesday, Trump boasted about a growth rate—1.9%—that he said was "deep trouble" when it happened during President Obama's term. By making up the 303,000 number, he may have been trying to avoid a similar gaffe today. Back in December 2012, when the economy added 158,000 jobs, he insisted that no fewer than 300,000 jobs per month were acceptable.

Why should I care about this?

  • Most people would get fired for making up fake numbers about their job performance.