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.
The GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1536577420.0
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.
Fact Check: President Trump falsely claimed GDP growth is higher than unemployment "for the first time in 100 years… https://t.co/TwequVucp7— The New York Times (@The New York Times)1536600009.0
"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:
Since 1948, there have been 63 quarters with a GDP growth rate higher than avg quarterly unemployment rate Recent… https://t.co/HNpvOgOxB9— Fox News Research (@Fox News Research)1536587065.0
Which had people howling:
@FoxNewsResearch OMG! FOX NEWS just fact checked Donald Trump.... it's ALL lies!— Daniel! Ray 🦂 🏳️🌈 (@Daniel! Ray 🦂 🏳️🌈)1536589170.0
@FoxNewsResearch Don’t let your boss see this!!!!!! You’re fact checking him!— J S-H (@J S-H)1536590586.0
@FoxNewsResearch @Pinche_Pi Hell hath frozen over.— Grandma Muses ☘️ (@Grandma Muses ☘️)1536602679.0
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.
This has happened 64 times in the past 70 years. 👉🏻 https://t.co/stTx47H8Zi https://t.co/76gBJsiAW2— Frank Luntz (@Frank Luntz)1536595425.0
@FrankLuntz @JamesFallows Yeah, but 64 of the past 70 years have been once in a century type years.— Mark Hampton (@Mark Hampton)1536601494.0
@realDonaldTrump This happened in 1941, 42, 43, 44, 48, 50, 51, 52, 53, 55, 59, 62, 64, 65, 66, 68, 72, 73, 98, 99,… https://t.co/yn0wnlNjyU— Jonathan Skolnick (@Jonathan Skolnick)1536578682.0
"Why you gotta lie all the time?"
@realDonaldTrump You are an outright liar. A psychotic pathological liar. trump lives in a fake world, with fake f… https://t.co/iHy4lFXqZv— S Turner #VoteBlue #KhashoggiMurder #GOPComplicit (@S Turner #VoteBlue #KhashoggiMurder #GOPComplicit)1536592906.0
He doesn't cite sources because a lie can't be proven.
@realDonaldTrump POUTS lies 70% of the time, and that tweet is a great example. He doesn't cite a source, because t… https://t.co/VnuG0ejRZJ— Monty Boa (@Monty Boa)1536596421.0
Employing a fact checker might be a good idea.
@nytimes Lie after lie after lie, why dosen't Trump have people fact check him before he makes all of these stateme… https://t.co/oS8M7mCzsN— Gregg Graison (@Gregg Graison)1536601638.0
@nytimes You have to fact check Trump on everything! I wouldn't trust him to tell me the time of day!— Mona Liza (@Mona Liza)1536600340.0
At least try, Mr. President. This isn't even a good lie.
@realDonaldTrump This is a lie. Stop lying. https://t.co/qwW2AjCGmY— Aimee Giese (@Aimee Giese)1536593444.0
@realDonaldTrump Wow...your tweets are full of lies today. If all your numbers in your tweets today were true, you… https://t.co/gRUy9gAYKL— HighHeelsDes 👠 (@HighHeelsDes 👠)1536599318.0
The receipts are clear.
This is totally true if you exclude 1948Q1,1948Q2,1950Q1,1950Q2,1950Q3,1950Q4,1951Q1,1951Q2,1951Q3,1952Q1,1952Q4,19… https://t.co/WOAn8jNbNp— Justin Wolfers (@Justin Wolfers)1536581481.0
Trump later claimed that he had a "magic wand" and that "we have just begun."
“President Trump would need a magic wand to get to 4% GDP,” stated President Obama. I guess I have a magic wand, 4.… https://t.co/UYndIEc2iV— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1536590554.0
It was not well-received.
@realDonaldTrump OBAMA DID BETTER WITHOUT SPENDING $1.4 TRILLION ON THE RICH!! https://t.co/Q29EjRIZd0— #TheResistance🌊 (@#TheResistance🌊)1536603321.0
@realDonaldTrump Hope your magic wand makes you disappear.— Rose Sabatino (@Rose Sabatino)1536601888.0
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."
@realDonaldTrump Here's the video clip of Obama's magic wand comment. Not only did he not say "President Trump," he… https://t.co/PxEmhnBOOc— Charles Johnson (@Charles Johnson)1536604492.0
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.