During the White House press briefing on Tuesday, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders used fake statistics to inflate President Trump’s record on African American employment.
After several questions about Trump’s feud with former aide Omarosa Manginault, NBC’s Kristin Welker asked Sanders whether she could guarantee the American people they wold never hear Trump use the “n-word” in any context. Sanders said that no, she could not guarantee that, but then forcefully argued that if any White House staff thought Trump is who his critics accuse him of being, they would not work there. She pivoted to what Trump had allegedly done for the African American workforce.
“This president since he took office in the year-and-a-half that he’s been here has created 700,000 new jobs for African Americans,” Huckabee Sanders said. “That’s 700,000 African Americans that are working now that weren’t working when this president took office. When President Obama left after eight years in office, eight years in office he had only created 195,000 jobs for African Americans. President Trump in his first year-and-a-half has already tripled what President Obama did in eight years.”
The number of jobs created from January 2017 to July 2018 is indeed about 700,000 for African Americans. But in Sanders’ haste to malign the reputation of President Obama, she misstated the facts.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 15.48 million African Americans employed in January 2009, when Obama took office, and 18.49 million employed when he left office in January 2017. That’s 2.96 million jobs created, not 195,000 as Huckabee Sanders stated on Tuesday. From January 2009 to December 2016, Obama’s last full month, the figure would be 2.83 million jobs.
The raw numbers don’t account for the fact that the economy was cratering as Obama took office, as did the number of African Americans who were employed, which bottomed out at 14.7 million in October of 2009. From that low, one could argue that Obama actually created 3.7 million jobs as the economy began to improve.
It is unclear where she got the 195,000 jobs figure. The White House’s defenders might argue that Huckabee Sanders was trying to compare jobs created under the same timeframe — say, the first 19 months of Obama’s presidency to the first 19 months of Trump’s presidency. But that would have been a loss of 474,000 jobs, not a gain of 195,000 jobs.
The Washington Times repeated Huckabee Sanders’ claim without qualification in its writeup of the press briefing, and as of this writing, the figure has not been confirmed or refuted in conservative media or by the White House.
Trump has attempted to exploit the better economic situation in which African Americans find themselves in 2018 as a salve for otherwise racist words and acts. Black unemployment has fallen steadily since 2010, so Trump has in a sense ridden the trend caused by the Obama administration’s policies. In fact, in 2017, the African American unemployment rate fell at a slower rate than it had the previous four years.
Unemployment for Black Americans is the lowest ever recorded. Trump approval ratings with Black Americans has doubled. Thank you, and it will get even (much) better! @FoxNews
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2018
In January, Trump falsely claimed that his approval rating among African Americans had doubled.