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Trump’s Numbers, April 2019 Update

Summary

Since President Donald Trump took office:

  • Attempted unauthorized crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border soared to the highest levels in over a decade.
  • The trade deficit rose by more than $100 billion — 23.5 percent.
  • The economy added 5.1 million jobs; unemployment fell to the lowest rate in nearly half a century.
  • Economic growth picked up, but fell short of what Trump promised.
  • The number of restrictions in the federal rulebook stopped growing, and fell a bit.
  • After-tax corporate profits hit record levels. Stock prices rose.
  • Carbon emissions, which had been falling, rose 2 percent.
  • At least 1 million fewer people have health insurance (7 million according to Gallup).
  • One-fifth of the judges on federal appeals courts have been installed by Trump.

Analysis

This is our fifth quarterly update of the “Trump’s Numbers” scorecard that we posted in January 2018 and have updated every three months, most recently on Jan. 16. We’ll publish additional updates every three months, as fresh statistics become available.

Here we’ve included statistics that may seem good or bad or just neutral, depending on the reader’s point of view. That’s the way we did it when we posted our first “Obama’s Numbers” article more than six years ago — and in the quarterly updates and final summary that followed. And we’ve maintained the same practice under Trump. 

Then as now, we make no judgment as to how much credit or blame any president deserves for things that happen during his time in office. Opinions differ on that.

Jobs and Unemployment

Job growth slowed a bit under Trump, but unemployment dropped to the lowest level in nearly half a century.

Employment — Total nonfarm employment grew by 5,121,000 during the president’s first 26 months in office, according to the most recent figures available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That continued an unbroken chain of monthly gains in total employment that started in October 2010.

The average monthly gain under Trump so far is 197,000 — compared with an average monthly gain of 217,000 during Obama’s second term.

Trump will have to pick up the pace if he is to fulfill his campaign boast that he will be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”

Unemployment — The unemployment rate, which was well below the historical norm when Trump took office, has continued to fall even lower.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics now figures the rate was 4.7 percent when he was sworn in. The most recent rate, for March, is 3.8 percent.

It had been as low as 3.7 percent in September and November of last year. That was the lowest since December 1969.

The jobless rate has been at or below 4 percent for the most recent 13 months on record. It hasn’t been that low for that long since a 50-month streak ending in January 1970.

The historical norm is 5.6 percent, which is the median monthly rate for all the months since the start of 1948.

Job Openings — Another reason employment growth has slowed is a shortage of qualified workers.

The number of unfilled job openings hit more than 7.6 million in November, the highest in the 18 years the BLS has tracked this figure.

As of the last day of February, the most recent figure on record, it was still nearly 7.1 million. That’s a gain of 1,463,000 unfilled job openings — or 26.0 percent — since Trump took office.

For the first time on record the number of job openings exceeded the number of unemployed people looking for work in March of last year, and in every month since.

Labor Force Participation — Despite the abundance of jobs, the labor force participation rate — which went down 2.8 percentage points during the Obama years — has remained little changed under Trump.

The labor force participation rate iseven though it was due mostly to the post-World War II baby boomers reaching retirement age, and other demographic factors beyond the control of any president.

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