FACT CHECK: Trump Claims GDP Never Hit 3% Under Obama

David Sivak | Fact Check Editor

President Donald Trump claimed that annual economic growth never reached 3 percent under former President Barack Obama in a speech on tax reform Wednesday.

Verdict: True 

Gross domestic product (GDP), the total value of goods and services produced in the U.S., never rose 3 percent annually under Obama, although there were eight separate quarters where GDP grew by more than 3 percent.

Fact Check:

During a tax reform speech in Missouri, Trump touted news that economic growth for the second quarter of 2017 had been revised up to 3 percent.

“Today – a very appropriate day that this should happen – we just announced that we hit 3 percent in GDP,” Trump said. “It just came out.”

Trump compared the quarterly number to economic growth under Obama, claiming that the economy never grew 3 percent annually under the former president.

“And on a yearly basis, as you know, the last administration during an eight-year period never hit 3 percent,” Trump said. “So we’re really on our way.”

Trump is correct. Annual GDP never rose 3 percent under Obama according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The highest yearly change recorded was 2.9 percent in 2015.

These numbers, however, are not really comparable to the second-quarter growth touted by Trump. Quarterly data compares the change in GDP from the preceding quarter, while yearly data compares the change in GDP from the preceding year.

Although the economy never reached annual growth of 3 percent under Obama, quarterly growth did surpass 3 percent eight times during his presidency. The highest growth recorded was 5.2 percent in the third quarter of 2014.

Trump’s claim is correct, but quarterly GDP figures are more directly comparable than annual stats in this case.

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David Sivak

Fact Check Editor
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