Trump’s misleading International Women’s Day tweet, briefly explained
President Donald Trump commemorated International Women’s Day on Friday in characteristic form — by posting a misleading brag about himself on Twitter.
“Women’s unemployment rate is down to 3.6% – was 7.9% in January, 2011,” Trump tweeted. “Things are looking good!
Women’s unemployment rate is down to 3.6% – was 7.9% in January, 2011. Things are looking good!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 8, 2019
Trump’s tweet suggests that the unemployment rate among women has fallen dramatically during his tenure in office. But that’s not exactly true.
In January 2011 — the month Trump picked as the baseline for his tweet — the economy was in the early stages of recovering from the Great Recession. By the end of that year, the women’s unemployment rate, like the unemployment rate in general, had started a gradual slide that continued all the way through the Obama administration and into Trump’s term.
This graph from the St. Louis Fed depicts the women’s unemployment rate from the month Obama was inaugurated to the present day.
So Trump can take credit for the women’s unemployment rate falling to 3.6 percent from 4.7 percent, just as he can take credit for the overall unemployment rate falling to 3.8 percent from 4.7 percent. But Obama deserves most of the thanks for the gains that have taken place since 2011.
Trump should be thanking Obama instead of trashing him
Despite his long and well-documented history of misogyny and racism, Trump routinely cites relatively low unemployment rates as evidence that he’s working on behalf of women and minority communities.
“Look at the progress that you’ve made,” Trump said during a recent White House event to commemorate Black History Month. “Look at those numbers that I gave you before, with unemployment and all of the other numbers we have together.”
But as is the case with women’s employment, most progress on those economic indicators happened under Obama.
As Trump makes the African-American unemployment rate his chief defence against racism charges, it’s worth looking at this chart.
The African-American unemployment rate went from 13.7% in Obama’s first full month to 7.7% when he left. It has gone from 7.7% to 6.8% under Trump. pic.twitter.com/LmzGfr5rTK
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) February 3, 2019
But Trump routinely and baselessly claims that things were on a downward trajectory when he took office:
We have a great economy DESPITE the Obama Administration and all of its job killing Regulations and Roadblocks. If that thinking prevailed in the 2016 Election, the U.S. would be in a Depression right now! We were heading down, and don’t let the Democrats sound bites fool you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2019
Though you would never know it from Trump’s tweets, there were actually about 400,000 new jobs created during Obama’s first 25 months in office than Trump’s.
Trump actually does has valid reasons to brag about his economic record. As Vox’s Alexia Fernández Campbell detailed in her report about the February jobs report, the unemployment rate is at historic lows, and wages are rising.
But it’s notable that even when just telling the truth would serve his purposes, Trump opts for self-aggrandizing obfuscating.