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Fox News Just Fact-Checked Donald Trump's Latest Questionable Claim About the Economy, and Twitter Piled On

US President Donald Trump at the White House on August 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty Images)

In the wee hours of Monday morning, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to make the dubious claim that GDP was higher than the unemployment rate for the first time in 100 years.


Surprising exactly nobody, it turns out that claim is not true.

In fact, the GDP has surpassed the unemployment rate 185 times since 1948, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

An analysis in the New York Times on Monday identified recent instances in which GDP was higher than unemployment.

"Most recently, in the first quarter of 2006, the gross domestic product grew at a rate of 5.4 percent," the Times writes, "while the unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in January, 4.8 percent in February and 4.7 percent in March."

In September 1950, the Times notes, GDP surged to 16.9 percent, while unemployment was at 4.4 percent, which is the largest positive gap ever achieved. And in Q2 1978, GDP reached 16.4 percent as unemployment held at 5.77 percent.

Fox News helpfully tweeted this factcheck:

Which had people howling:

Others on Twitter dragged the president for making such an obviously false claim.

In the last several decades, GDP has been higher than unemployment dozens of times. "Close enough?" Definitely not.

"Why you gotta lie all the time?"

He doesn't cite sources because a lie can't be proven.

Employing a fact checker might be a good idea.

At least try, Mr. President. This isn't even a good lie.

The receipts are clear.

Trump later claimed that he had a "magic wand" and that "we have just begun."

It was not well-received.

Oh, and Barack Obama didn't say that. What the former president actually said was:

"How exactly are you [Trump] going to negotiate" better trade deals? "What magic wand do you have, and usually the answer is, he doesn't have an answer."

Philip Bump of The Washington Post explains why comparing GDP and unemployment is, for the most part, pointless.

"One is a rate of change; one is a metric," Bump says, "which is a bit like saying the Chicago Bears are doing better than the Green Bay Packers because their score increased 100 percent from the second to third quarters while the Packers have only 75 percent of the points."

Another wrench in Trump's claim is that of the numbers he cited, "one is for the second quarter of the year while the other is from August — two periods that don't overlap."

Bump also points out that GDP outpacing unemployment happens "not infrequently."

Out of the 282 full quarters since 1948, the rate of change in the GDP has topped the unemployment rate 64 times, or more than a quarter of the time. So 64 times in the past 70 years. Not quite the same as once in a century.

Trump's Monday tweet is the latest in a series of fake data peddled by the president and his administration.

The White House last month made an even more egregiously false claim that Trump has created three times as many jobs in 18 months than Obama added in eight years, according to Bloomberg.

"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," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on August 14. "That’s 700,000 African-Americans that are working now that weren’t working when this president took place. When President Obama left, after eight years in office, he had only created 195,000 jobs for African-Americans."

Bloomberg notes that the Bureau of Labor and Statistics' data show African-Americans gained 3 million jobs under Obama.