Trump remains optimistic about economy following weak jobs report
President Donald Trump conveyed optimism about the American economy on Friday, despite a new jobs report showing that the US added only 20,000 jobs in February — a surprisingly low number that bucked the trend of huge jobs gains in recent months.
Trump, while departing from the White House, was asked if 20,000 jobs — the fewest jobs gained in a month since September 2017 — was good enough for him.
“It’s a step,” Trump said, adding, “I think you’ll probably find out it averages out.”
Trump has made the economy a centerpiece of his presidency, and routinely celebrates the monthly jobs and GDP reports as well as strong stock market performance — but has been quick to blame others, including the head of the Federal Reserve, when results are weaker than he wants.
The stock market fell 200 points at the open before recovering slightly, though Trump pointed out that it’s still doing well — one of his favorite performance yardsticks.
“Certainly since my election it’s up, getting close to 50 percent,” Trump said.
He also found a silver lining in Friday’s weak numbers, pointing out the uptick in worker pay.
“I think the big news really was that wage growth is up. And that’s great for the American worker,” Trump said.
Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, speaking on Bloomberg, called the number “an absolute fluke.”
“There are a million reasons for that, winter seasonals, the government shutdown, the scoring of it, classification of people working and non-working,” Kudlow said. “I think it’s crazy.”
According to the new jobs report, unemployment rate fell to 3.8%, as fewer unemployed people were looking for work. The Labor Department suggested that furloughed workers returning to work after the government shutdown also contributed to the lower unemployment rate.
Trump also suggested that the economy will benefit if he can close a trade agreement with China, which has struggled with a slowing economy in part due to Trump’s tariffs.
“I think as soon as these trade deals are done, if they get done, and we’re working with China. We’ll see what happens,” Trump said, adding “But I think you’re going to see a very big spike.”
“A lot of people are waiting to see what happens with the China deal. We’ll be submitting to Congress very shortly,” he continued.