Donald Trump has been on Twitter again. This time to tout his economic success, with the GDP growth rate hitting 4.2 percent for the last quarter and topping the unemployment rate of 3.9 percent, something Trump claimed “for the first time in 100 years.” However, Fox Business reports this as false.
While the numbers cited by Trump are true, the truth in how long it has been since that last occurred sees Trump well short, with the GDP growth rate outstripping the unemployment rate most recently in the first quarter of 2006.
Despite Trump’s incorrect tweet, both figures are good for Trump, with the GDP growth rate the highest in almost four years and the unemployment rate the lowest it has been in almost 18 years.
In an interview with Fox Business, University of Michigan economics professor Justin Wolfers questioned the origin of the statistics.
“I do wonder who on earth told him that GDP growth had never been higher than the unemployment this century. It’s not just wrong, it’s very, very wrong.”
In his comments with Fox Business, Wolfers did not see any significance in comparing the two figures as not only are they managing different things but they’re two different types of statistics, with GDP measuring a rate of change and unemployment being a level.
Wolfers went on Twitter to provide his proof against Trump’s statements, taking two full tweets to show every time the GDP growth rate was higher than the unemployment rate in the last 100 years, a total of 60 times.
and 1968Q2,1969Q1,1971Q1,1972Q1,1972Q2,1972Q4,1973Q1,1976Q1,1977Q2,1977Q3,1978Q2,1980Q4,1981Q1,1983Q4,1984Q1,1987Q4,1988Q4,1996Q2,1997Q2,1997Q3,1998Q3,1998Q4,1999Q3,1999Q4,2000Q2,2003Q3,2006Q1— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) September 10, 2018
The government has only been tracking both numbers for 70 years and taking out Wolfers’ conclusion to a percentage means that what Trump says has only happened once in the last 100 years has actually happened 20 percent of the time or slightly below the 28.6 percent odds that FiveThirtyEight gave at Trump winning the election.
The Trump administration has been in trouble in the past for inaccurate economic statistics with CNBC reporting that White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders made false claims about the black employment rate.
In the end, Sanders backed down, with evidence that the black employment rate was 3.2 million under the Obama presidency and just 700,000 under Trump. Sanders stated that while the numbers were true, the time frame was incorrect.
Often Sanders has come out with a statement on behalf of the White House when these issues have arisen, but the White House has not yet responded to requests for comments.