The ve­rac­ity of Trump's claims gen­er­ate a red flag

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By CHRISTO­PHER RUGABER and JOSH BOAK

WASHINGTON - Don­ald Trump, the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, would not like the way Trump, the pres­i­dent, is crow­ing about to­day's un­em­ploy­ment rate. He'd call the whole thing a “hoax.”

Trump raised a red flag about de­clin­ing job­less num­bers dur­ing his cam­paign, so as to deny Pres­i­dent Barack Obama any credit. Trump noted that the job­less rate masks the true em­ploy­ment pic­ture by leav­ing out the millions who have given up look­ing for work.

But Trump is see­ing red no more. The same stats he as­sailed in 2015 and 2016 now are his proof of “fan­tas­tic,” “ter­rific” eco­nomic progress, for which he wants the credit.

That dis­con­nect is part of why Trump's state­ments about the econ­omy this past week, some ac­cu­rate on their face, fall short of the whole truth.

On top of that, Trump made the far­fetched claim that the econ­omy is bet­ter than it has ever been. And in a week con­sumed with the dustup over the gov­ern­ment shut­down, Trump's doc­tor stepped for­ward with a tes­ta­ment to the pres­i­dent's health that other physi­cians found to be too rosy.

A look at some re­cent re­marks away from the din of the bud­get bat­tle:

TRUMP: “Black un­em­ploy­ment is the best it's ever been in recorded his­tory. It's been fan­tas­tic. And it's the best num­ber we've had with re­spect to black un­em­ploy­ment. We've never seen any­thing even close.” - re­marks from Oval Of­fice on Tues­day.

THE FACTS: Yes, the black un­em­ploy­ment rate of 6.8 per­cent is the low­est on record.

No, it's not far and away su­pe­rior to any time in the past. In 2000, it was within one point of to­day's record for six months, and as low seven per­cent.

As Trump was quick to note as a can­di­date, the un­em­ploy­ment rate only mea­sures peo­ple with­out jobs who are search­ing for work. Like other de­mo­graphic groups, fewer AfricanAmer­i­cans are work­ing or look­ing for work than in the past. Just 62.1 per­cent of blacks are em­ployed or seek­ing a job, down from a peak of 66.4 per­cent in 1999.

The black un­em­ploy­ment rate would be much higher if the rate of black la­bor force par­tic­i­pa­tion was near its lev­els be­fore the Great Re­ces­sion.

Dur­ing the cam­paign, Trump claimed that real un­em­ploy­ment then was a soar­ing 42 per­cent.It's not quite clear, but he could have been re­fer­ring to the per­cent­age of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion with­out jobs - a fig­ure that in­cludes re­tirees, stay-at-home par­ents and stu­dents. At the time, he con­sid­ered the of­fi­cial job­less rate a “phony set of num­bers ... one of the big­gest hoaxes in mod­ern pol­i­tics.”

TRUMP: “We're mak­ing in­cred­i­ble progress. The women's un­em­ploy­ment rate hit the low­est level that it's been in 17 years. Well, that's some­thing. And women in the work­force reached a record high. ... That's re­ally ter­rific, and es­pe­cially since it's on my watch.”- at women's event Tues­day

THE FACTS: Again - yes, but. The four per­cent job­less rate for women is at a 17-year low, just as it is for the over­all pop­u­la­tion. But the la­bor force par­tic­i­pa­tion rate by women is lower to­day than in 2000. The pro­por­tion of women in the work­force is not at a record high. TRUMP: “Our coun­try is do­ing very well. Eco­nom­i­cally, we've never had any­thing like it.” - from Oval Of­fice on Tues­day.

THE FACTS: Never say never. The U.S. econ­omy had bet­ter em­ploy­ment stats dur­ing the 2000 tech boom, just for one ex­am­ple. It's en­joyed stock mar­ket surges be­fore.It's had blaz­ing, dou­ble-digit an­nual growth, a far cry from the 3.2 per­cent achieved dur­ing the sec­ond and third quar­ters of 2017. That was the best six-month pace since 2014 - hardly the best ever. The econ­omy added about 170,000 new jobs a month dur­ing Trump's first year. That was slightly be­low the av­er­age of 185,000 in Obama's last year.

DR. RONNY JACK­SON, White House physi­cian, on his ex­am­i­na­tion of Trump: “I think he'll re­main fit for duty for the re­main­der of this term and even for the re­main­der of an­other term if he's elected. ... His car­diac health is ex­cel­lent.'' - White House brief­ing Tues­day.

THE FACTS: Physi­cians not con­nected with the White House have widely ques­tioned that pre­dic­tion of seven more years of healthy liv­ing and that con­clu­sion about his heart. Car­diac func­tion­ing was in­deed nor­mal in the tests, ac­cord­ing to the read­ings that were re­leased.But Trump is bor­der­line obese and largely seden­tary, with a ``bad'' choles­terol read­ing above the norm de­spite tak­ing med­i­ca­tion for it. He'll be 72 in June. It's doubt­ful that most men that age with sim­i­lar his­to­ries and find­ings would get such a glow­ing report from their doc­tors.

PHOTO COURTESY OF AMER­I­CAN CIVIL LIB­ER­TIES UNION

Don­ald Trump

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