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Washington Post fact checker calls out Biden on job growth claim

The White House distributed a graphic explaining that the claim referenced the average number of jobs created monthly over entire presidencies.

Published: September 13, 2022 10:07am

Updated: September 13, 2022 12:31pm

The Washington Post's fact-check team is calling out President Biden's recent claim that right now he has "the strongest record of growing manufacturing jobs in modern history."

Fact-checker Glenn Kessler wrote Tuesday the tweeted claim is "misleading" and awarded it two "Pinocchios."

Kessler makes his argument by deconstructing dense Bureau of Labor Statistics data through several paragraphs and writes: "Presidential decisions and new laws can certainly impact job creation – over time. 

"But it is hard to disentangle the importance of those factors from broader economic forces that are beyond a president's control. That’s why it’s often misleading to measure job creation by presidential term – an artificial metric beloved by presidents and the public alike."

Still, Kessler ultimately concludes: "Comparing the monthly manufacturing jobs records of presidents who served four years and eight years with Biden’s 19 months is as silly as Trump’s unemployment claim during his 2020 State of the Union address. 

"The tweet mitigated the claim somewhat with the phrase 'right now' – acknowledging that it could change – but it’s still a misleading metric even if the numbers add up."

Kessler also writes that when the newspaper’s fact-check team first saw the tweet, members assumed Biden was comparing 19-month periods of different presidents. Under Biden, about 630,000 manufacturing jobs have been gained, or 5.2%, from February 2020 to August 2021.

"That's a pretty good record, but it was topped by Richard M. Nixon. From February 1972 to August 1973, more than 1.3 million manufacturing jobs were added, or 7.6 percent. Given that Biden was a senator back in 1972, we would have thought this was still 'modern history,' "Kessler writes.

"But it turns out Biden was not making this comparison at all. Instead, he was talking about the monthly job-creation average over the entire presidencies. ….

"This is a strange way to do it. It mixes the records of presidents who served one or two terms – or less. Biden of course has not yet served two years, meaning he has far fewer months to divide into the total. A lot could change in the next two-plus years – which is apparently why the tweet includes the phrase 'right now.' "

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