FACT CHECK: Biden’s Job Creation Claim Ignores Key Context

Joseph Casieri | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared by President Joe Biden claims that his administration’s monthly average job creation far exceeds that of several previous presidents, including former President Donald Trump.

Verdict: Misleading

The post’s numbers are technically accurate. However, important context is missing that explains the reasons for Trump’s and Biden’s performance, most notably the Covid-19 pandemic shutdown.

Fact Check:

A post from Biden shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, purportedly shows that his job performance is superior to his likely general election opponent, former President Trump. The chart shows an average monthly job creation for each president going back to Ronald Reagan. Trump saw an average -57,000 jobs created per month while Biden’s administration has seen 409,000 jobs per month.

The claim is missing important context. While the numbers in the chart are technically accurate, the post ignores the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic had on Trump’s performance. It also removes the context of the benefit that Biden’s average had due to his administration overseeing the end of the pandemic and the reopening of the country.

COVID-19 was classified as a pandemic on March 11, 2020 by the World Health Organization. Trump declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency on March 13, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Data from the St. Louis Fed shows that the number of non-farm employees in the United States in Feb. 2020 was 152.3 million. It dropped to 130 million in April 2020. By the time Trump left office in January 2021, the economy was back up to 142.9 million non-farm employees.

U.S. employment recovered and exceeded pre-pandemic levels by September 2022, according to Bloomberg. Currently, St. Louis Fed data shows there are 157.7 million non-farm employees.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic fallout caused significant hardship. In the early months of the crisis, tens of millions of people lost their jobs. While employment began to rebound within a few months, unemployment remained high throughout 2020. Improving employment and substantial relief measures helped reduce the very high levels of hardship seen in the summer of 2020,” the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote in a post that was last updated in February 2022.

Experts told Check Your Fact that the COVID-19 pandemic explains why Trump’s numbers are bad.

Jai Kedia, a research fellow at the libertarian think tank Cato Institute’s Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives, told Check Your Fact in an email that the “numbers do not accurately reflect either President’s records and the social media chart is very misleading.”

“Trump’s numbers look as bad as they do in that chart simply because the pandemic occurred in the last year of his presidency. The lockdown caused a massive and sudden fall in employment around April 2020, but job numbers immediately started to revert back to trend,” Kedia said.

“This would have occurred regardless of political incumbency. It so happened that we had a presidential change during this reversion. Employment numbers look better under Biden simply because the economy was returning to its pre-pandemic growth rate through his term in office. If you look at total nonfarm employment data, it clearly exhibits that employment has returned to trend in the past few months but does not indicate any above trend growth or positive change to the underlying trend itself under the Biden presidency,” Kedia added.

Kedia also emphasized, “that macro indicators are largely determined by market forces and shocks, so politicians deserve neither all the credit nor all the blame.”

John Buhl, an economics analyst at the left-leaning Urban Institute, told Check Your Fact in a phone interview that nearly all of Trump’s jobs performance shown in the chart is attributable to the Covid-19 shutdown. Check Your Fact inquired about how much of Biden’s job performance is attributable to the Covid-19 pandemic ending.

Buhl said that “the answer is a very, very, very, large chunk. Probably at least 90% maybe more than that,” though he explained it is hard to come up with an exact calculation.

The Trump administration’s archived website had a page discussing the economic statistics during his administration before the COVID-19 pandemic. The website claims the former president oversaw the creation of 7 million jobs and an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent before the pandemic.

Check Your Fact reached out to Biden and Trump campaign spokespeople and will update this article if responses are provided.

Elias Atienza contributed to this report. 

Joseph Casieri

Fact Check Reporter