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Trump's average unemployment rate is the lowest in recorded history


Spammer Hammer
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Trump's average unemployment rate is the lowest in recorded history
by Philip Klein | January 10, 2020 11:16 AM


President Trump starts off 2020 having presided over a lower average unemployment rate than any president at a comparable point in office in recorded history.

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate held steady at a historically low 3.5% in December. Since February 2017, Trump's first full month in office, the monthly unemployment rate has averaged 3.9%. No prior president has averaged less than 4% over the first 35 months of his presidency. The closest was Dwight Eisenhower, when the rate averaged 4.3% between February 1953 and December 1955.

Modern unemployment statistics did not start being kept until 1948, after Harry Truman's first 35 months in office, so this analysis only starts with Eisenhower. Nonetheless, it does point to the unprecedented nature of this consistently low level of unemployment.

To be sure, this statistic isn't predictive of the election outcome. The economy is only one of many factors that voters use to evaluate incumbent presidents. Also, voters tend to weigh the trend of the economy, which is not reflected in the average. For instance, George H.W. Bush averaged lower unemployment during the first 35 months of his presidency than his predecessor, Ronald Reagan. But the Reagan economy started weak, then expanded rapidly in the run-up to his reelection, whereas Bush inherited an economy in decent shape and was voted out of office when it had declined.

But Trump's case is unique because he took over a recovering economy with unemployment already at 4.6%, and the rate continued to go down and stay low. So now he starts off his potential reelection year with a record of consistently low unemployment that's currently holding steady at 3.5%.

It's still possible the economy will decline in time for it to hurt Trump in the election. And the Trump presidency has been polarizing for many other reasons. Despite the economic news, more Americans still disapprove of his performance than approve of it. Nevertheless, the job market has been objectively good under Trump, and it's one factor that he has going for him even as other factors cut against him.