FACT CHECK: 5 Claims Made By Trump During His Pensacola Speech

Kush Desai | Fact Check Reporter

President Donald Trump made numerous claims about the economy, defense spending and trade during his Friday rally in Pensacola, Florida.

Here are five checks on Trump’s comments.

Claim 1: “Hispanic unemployment is the lowest ever recorded.”

Fact Check: Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate the Hispanic unemployment rate is 4.7 percent as of November. This is the lowest rate reported since 1973.

The Hispanic unemployment rate is at a historical low (and roughly half the average of 8.9 percent since 1973),  however, theHispanic labor force participation has not recovered to pre-recession levels, the Pew Research Center reports.

The Hispanic unemployment rate also lags behind the national unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, BLS data show.

Claim 2: “Black homeownership just hit the highest level it’s ever been in the history of our country.”

Fact Check: The U.S. Census Bureau reports that, as of the third quarter of 2017, 42 percent of black households owned their homes, compared to a high of nearly 50 percent in the second quarter of 2004.

Contrary to Trump’s claim, the black homeownership rate was higher every quarter from 1996 to 2014.

The 2008 recession – during which home prices markedly declined and foreclosure rates spiked – affected black Americans worse than other racial groups, reports the Urban Institute, a left-leaning think tank.

Overall homeownership rates are expected to continue declining over the next decade, according to the Urban Institute.

Claim 3: “Consumer confidence is at a 17-year high.”

Fact Check: Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) data published by the Conference Board, a business research nonprofit, shows that consumer confidence is at a 17-year high.

The survey data measures factors like consumer views on business conditions and the job market.

“Consumers are entering the holiday season in very high spirits and foresee the economy expanding at a healthy pace into the early months of 2018,” said Lynn Franco, the director of economic indicators at The Conference Board.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) also recorded consumer confidence at a 17-year high using different benchmarks.

Claim 4: “We’re paying for 80 percent of NATO. Could be higher. They say 72 percent.”

Fact Check: The U.S. is slated to contribute 22 percent of the 2017 budget for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO employs its own staff and maintains a headquarters in Belgium.

When defense spending by NATO countries is added up, the alliance will spend an estimated $946 billion in 2017. The U.S. will account for $683 billion, or 72 percent, of total spending, Trump noted.

NATO is a military alliance, and member states must come to the defense of any individual member that is attacked; defense spending in this context represents each member’s commitment to the collective defense.

NATO advises member states to spend at least two percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on national defense, yet only six out of 29 member states spend that much. The U.S. will spend an estimated 3.6 percent of GDP on defense in 2017.

Some members have recently committed to increase spending, including countries like Romania.

Claim 5: “We have a pretty good trade deficit with Canada. They were saying we have a surplus with Canada. I said no.”

Fact Check: The U.S. actually had a trade surplus of $12.5 billion with Canada in 2016, according to data from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). Trump acknowledged the surplus in his speech a few moments later.

Data on exports and imports are divided into two categories: goods and services. Among U.S. trading partners, Canada ranks second in the trade of goods including vehicles, machinery and agriculture. The U.S. did have a goods deficit of $12.1 billion with Canada in 2016.

On the other hand, the U.S. had a services trade surplus of $25 billion in 2016.

The U.S. has net trade deficits with most of its major trading partners.

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Kush Desai

Fact Check Reporter