Donald Trump’s prediction that 25 million jobs would be created by his economic plan in a decade isn’t nearly as bold as it might sound. Jobs have already been growing at that rate and Trump’s goal is actually a bit less ambitious than what happened under President Barack Obama in the last few years.
A look at some of the statements in the plan he laid out in New York on Thursday and how they compare with the facts:
TRUMP, on 14 million people leaving the workforce during Obama’s presidency: ”My economic plan rejects the cynicism that says our labor force will keep declining.”
THE FACTS: It’s not cynicism that’s the problem, it’s mostly aging.
Roughly 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, and many of them retire. That reduces the number of Americans working or looking for work and limits how fast the economy can grow. Fewer people working translates into slower growth. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the labor force participation rate will be 60.2 percent in 2026, down from 62.8 percent today, based partly on population trends.
To be sure, aging isn’t the only factor. The proportion of Americans in their prime working years – from age 25 through 54 – who have jobs or are looking for work is still about 1.5 percentage points below pre-recession levels. Some have given up looking, while others have joined the disability rolls.
It’s also true that the number of Americans outside the workforce has increased to 94 million from about 80 million when Obama was inaugurated. That also reflects increasing retirements, and the rising likelihood that those aged 16 through 24 will stay in school rather than seek work.
TRUMP: ”Over the next 10 years, our economic team estimates that under our plan, the economy will average 3.5 percent growth and create a total of 25 million new jobs.”
THE FACTS: That sounds like a lot, but it’s the current pace of job growth, which is a little slower than in 2014 and 2015.
In the past 12 months ending in August, the U.S. economy has added nearly 2.5 million jobs – the same annual pace Trump is promising. In 2015, the economy added 2.7 million, and the year before that, 3 million. Those were the two best years of hiring since 1998-99.
Trump’s goal, then, could be quite realistic, but it might be hard to square with his declaration that his plan is ”the most pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-family plan put forth perhaps in the history of our country.”
TRUMP: ”I believe the Fed is very political, it’s become very political.”
THE FACTS: Trump offered no evidence to back up this assertion. It’s the Federal Reserve’s job to help make the economy better, and to the extent that happens, political leaders and their party may benefit. But presidents can’t make the Fed, an independent agency, do anything
The Fed, under chairman Ben Bernanke and his successor and current chairwoman, Janet Yellen, has attracted controversy by pegging the short-term interest rate it controls to nearly zero for seven years. After one increase in December, it is still ultra-low at between 0.25 percent and 0.5 percent, a rate that some economists worry could spark a stock-market bubble or inflation. Bernanke was initially appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, and reappointed by Obama.
It’s not unusual for those unhappy with Fed policy to see political motives at work – and those critics might not always be wrong.
In 1993, for example, Fed chairman Alan Greenspan sat next to first lady Hillary Clinton during Bill Clinton’s speech to a joint session of Congress, in a move widely interpreted as support for Clinton’s deficit reduction policies.