It hasn’t gotten much attention for obvious reasons, but something else President Trump said at his impromptu press conference deserves comment: “I’ve created over a million jobs since I’m president.”
Conservatives would of course have been all over President Obama if he had said something so solipsistic (and socialistic). Leaving aside the phrasing, what does recent job growth says about Trump? I think the answer is mixed.
First: We should put that job growth in perspective. It has been weaker than it was during Obama’s last year in office. From February to July 2017, employment rose by 1.074 million jobs. From February to July 2016, it rose by 1.246 million. Job growth in the Obama months was 16 percent higher. (Stats here.)
Second: We should put that perspective in perspective, too. This economic expansion is getting pretty old, and we might expect that job growth would slow down as it continues.
Third: There have not been many changes in economic policy yet, but Trump has reduced some regulations. And the prospect of future positive changes in economic policy might have strengthened the economy’s “animal spirits.” It may be, then, that he can legitimately take credit for a small fraction of those 1.074 million jobs.
Fourth: Some people said that Trump would be a disaster for the economy. When he was elected, Paul Krugman foresaw a global recession, starting more or less immediately. He has so far cleared that bar, and then some.