President Donald Trump wrongly boasted that Toyota’s plan to invest over $1 billion in its largest manufacturing plant in Kentucky would “not have been made if we didn’t win the election.” A Toyota spokesman told us the car company had long been planning to make the investment and that the president was not a factor in the company’s decision.
In addition, Trump wrongly claimed that his administration has “created over 600,000 jobs already in a very short period of time.” Under Trump, the U.S. economy has added a combined 317,000 jobs in February and March, according to the most recent government data.
The president made both claims during a strategic and policy discussion with company CEOs at the White House on April 11.
Trump: At the top of our agenda is the creation of great high-paying jobs for American workers. And we’ve made a lot of progress. You see what’s going on; you see the numbers. We’ve created over 600,000 jobs already in a very short period of time, and it’s going to really start catching on now, because some of the things that we’ve done are big league and they are catching on.
Already, we’ve created more than almost 600,000 jobs. And yesterday, Toyota just announced that it will invest more than $1.3 billion — it’s probably going to be $1.9 billion — into its Georgetown, Kentucky, plant, an investment that would not have been made if we didn’t win the election.
Toyota announced on April 10 that it will spend $1.33 billion upgrading its assembly plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, as it works on a new model of the Camry. The car, according to the statement, “will become the first Toyota vehicle made in the U.S. to fully incorporate the new vehicle development and production technology” under the Toyota New Global Architecture.
But Trump is wrong that the “investment … would not have been made if we didn’t win the election.”
Toyota spokesman Aaron Fowles told us in an interview that the investment “predates the Trump administration” and had been planned “several years ago.” Another company spokesman told the New York Times the same thing.
The investment is actually part of a bigger plan to spend $10 billion dollars in the U.S. over the next five years, which Toyota President Akio Toyoda announced back on Jan. 9.
That announcement came days after Trump threatened to penalize the Japanese automaker for its plan to produce cars in Mexico that would be sold to consumers in the U.S. But Toyota executives said that the company’s plans to increase spending in the U.S. were not in response to Trump’s threat, according to news reports.
In fact, Toyota, according to its April 10 statement, previously invested $530 million in the Kentucky plant in 2013 in part to support production of a new model of Lexus.
Fowles confirmed reports that the latest investment won’t create any new jobs at the Kentucky plant, but, he said, that’s because Toyota already added more than 700 employees at the plant last year.
Many CEOs have said they are encouraged by Trump’s promises to cut business taxes and regulations. But in the end, this is just the latest example of Trump claiming undeserved credit for company investments that were largely market-driven and that were in the works before he was elected.
Trump’s Jobs Record
In the same meeting with business leaders, Trump also claimed that his administration has “created over 600,000 jobs already in a very short period of time.” That’s wrong — by a lot.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 219,000 jobs were added in February and about 98,000 more in March. That’s a total of 317,000 jobs in the two full months with Trump as president. The January job numbers were based on a survey that was concluded before Trump took office on January 20.
And even if we did include the estimated 216,000 jobs added in January, that would only bring the total to 533,000, not “over 600,000.”
The White House told Politico that the president was indeed counting jobs added in January. We asked for our own explanation, but the White House didn’t respond.
As we’ve written before, this positive jobs trend is not something that began in January, or even after the election. The economy added more than 250,000 new jobs a month in 20 of the 96 months under President Obama, and as of March, the U.S. has had 77 straight months of job growth.
The job gain in March actually underperformed expectations, even as the unemployment rate dipped to 4.5 percent.