“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created,” Donald Trump once pledged.
So far, he’s only the eighth-greatest among post-war presidents. In terms of relative job growth, the first six months of Trump’s term lags several of his predecessors, including Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush:
Today, data was released showing that the US created 209,000 jobs in July, comfortably beating expectations. Trump was quick to take credit on Twitter—”I have only just begun,” he said. Payrolls have expanded by 0.7% since January, less than half as much as during Richard Nixon’s first term but far more than during Barack Obama’s first six months, which is surely a point of pride for the current president.
To be fair, there’s little evidence that job growth—especially so early in a president’s first term—has much to do with a new administration’s actions or policies. Recent job growth is more likely a legacy of the final stages of the Obama years. The same goes for Obama’s first six months, which came shortly after Lehman Brothers collapsed and the global financial system seized up during the end of George W. Bush’s tenure.
What’s more, at 4.8%, the unemployment rate at the start of Trump’s term was historically low, making it harder to add jobs as the economy approaches “full employment.” The jobless rate was nearly 8% at the beginning of Obama’s first term, but only 4% at the same stage in George W. Bush’s administration.