Para leer en español, vea esta traducción de Google Translate.
Since President Joe Biden took office, the economy has added nearly 14.8 million jobs, 5.4 million more than the pre-pandemic peak in early 2020. All told, it’s an average monthly job growth of more than 400,000. But Biden misleadingly contrasts that with a loss of jobs under former President Donald Trump — a loss that occurred because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Employment under Trump was positive until the economy lost 20.5 million jobs in April 2020, as efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus led to business closures and layoffs. By the time Trump left office in January 2021, employment had partly rebounded, but was still 9.4 million jobs below the February 2020 peak, according to the official figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In a Feb. 3 post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Biden said, “The last guy had the worst jobs record since the Great Depression,” including a chart that showed a monthly average loss of 57,000 jobs under Trump. “Our record is a little different,” Biden boasted, with his graphic revealing a monthly average growth of 409,000 jobs under his presidency. (We actually calculate the average at 411,000.)
The chart also shows monthly job growth under Biden is significantly higher than that under other presidents, going back to Ronald Reagan. The closest president to Biden is Bill Clinton, with 239,000 average monthly job growth during his two terms in office.
It’s no surprise that Biden is touting the robust job numbers on his watch — any president would. But the comparison with Trump is missing some glaringly obvious context. The average monthly job growth under Trump was 180,000 per month before the pandemic hit. We can’t predict what would have happened if not for the pandemic, but the circumstances were highly unusual.
The comparison in Biden’s chart is “unfair,” Douglas Holtz-Eakin, an economist, president of the “center-right” American Action Forum and a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, told us, noting the more than 20 million jobs lost in April 2020. “That’s 10 times more than we have ever lost in a single month.” That wasn’t “Trump’s fault.”
The country gained nearly 3 million jobs back in May 2020. “Trump didn’t do anything special,” said Holtz-Eakin, who was an adviser to the late Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. “We started to recover. … We especially recovered in 2021 when Biden happened to take office,” a recovery that “was going to happen no matter who became president.”
Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, whose work has often been cited by the White House, told us Biden deserved “significant credit” for the strong job performance. “I think it is fair to say that job market recovery from the pandemic under President Biden has been astounding, and significantly better than anticipated when he took office.”
Zandi pointed to the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief measure signed into law by Biden in March 2021. “Without that massive fiscal support, it would have take much longer for the economy to fully recover,” Zandi said, citing a February 2022 Moody’s report that estimated it would have taken an additional year to recover the jobs lost because of the pandemic without the ARP.
By June 2022, employment hit and slightly surpassed the pre-pandemic peak. Since then, the job growth under Biden has been an average of 282,000 per month — that’s still 100,000 more than the pre-pandemic average under Trump.
Biden’s chart, titled “Jobs Created by President,” also leaves the misleading impression that presidents are responsible for all the job creation, or loss, during their time in office. But there are many economic factors outside the control of a president (see: COVID-19).
“Presidents deserve very little credit, and presidents typically deserve very little blame” for the employment figures on their watch, Holtz-Eakin said. But the “standard practice” is to attribute such measures to the president, something presidential candidates have to accept.
One other issue with Biden’s chart: Looking at the percentage job growth, rather than the raw numbers as the chart does, would account for population growth. And by percentage of job growth, Clinton’s 20.9% growth, over two terms, is well ahead of Biden’s 10.3% so far.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org does not accept advertising. We rely on grants and individual donations from people like you. Please consider a donation. Credit card donations may be made through our “Donate” page. If you prefer to give by check, send to: FactCheck.org, Annenberg Public Policy Center, 202 S. 36th St., Philadelphia, PA 19104.