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Nation & World

AP FACT CHECK: Trump claims 'phenomenal' economic record

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a state banquet at the Akasaka Palace, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Tokyo. Trump is on a five-country trip through Asia traveling to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a state banquet at the Akasaka Palace, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Tokyo. Trump is on a five-country trip through Asia traveling to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump, traveling Asia, is claiming a "phenomenal" economic performance at home, "if I do say so myself."

He does, indeed, say so himself, over and over. But what do those numbers say?

In short, they point to an unquestionably solid record during Trump's first year in office, though one that builds on steady economic progress under his predecessor.

A look at his recent claims on the economy's big numbers:

TRUMP: "Numbers are phenomenal over the last — since November 8th, Election Day. Our unemployment is at a 17-year low. We've gotten almost 2 million more people in the workforce in just that short period of time. I've reduced regulations terrifically, frankly, if I do say so myself." — remarks to business leaders in Tokyo, Monday.

TRUMP tweet Saturday: "Unemployment is down to 4.1%, lowest in 17 years. 1.5 million new jobs created since I took office. Highest stock Market ever, up $5.4 trill."

THE FACTS: His numbers are close to the mark. Trump can rightfully brag about the U.S. economy, but it's not quite as exceptional as he says, and he can't yet legitimately claim that his record on job creation is vastly superior to Barack Obama's. Many of the economic figures he cites are advancing a recovery from the Great Recession that dates back to the middle of 2009.

The unemployment rate did slip to 4.1 percent in October. But that was in part because many Americans gave up searching for work — one of the criticisms Trump made of Obama's record during the 2016 campaign.

Trump also takes credit for helping create on average 168,500 jobs a month, but Obama in 2016 averaged about 187,000 jobs a month. Of course, hiring should slow as the unemployment rate declines because fewer people are searching for work.

As for the stock market, the Dow Jones Industrial Average returned to its previous peak in March 2013 and has been setting records ever since. The promise of corporate tax cuts by Trump has helped the stock market, but many of the gains rest on the foundations of an economic recovery in which corporate profits climbed.

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