Sarah Huckabee Sanders made a bizarre claim about black employment under Trump compared to Obama as a defense against Omarosa’s attacks

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders

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White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders
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Alex Wong/Getty Images

  • White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointed to the growth of black employment under President Donald Trump as a defense against former top White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman’s claims that the president may have used a racial slur.
  • Sanders claimed that Trump has created 700,000 jobs for black people in his first year and a half, while Obama only created 195,000 in eight years.
  • But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 3 million more black people were employed at the end of Obama’s presidency than when he was sworn in.

While rebuking claims made by former top White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman’s tell-all book about President Donald Trump, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made an astounding claim about black job growth during the president’s tenure.

As part of Sanders’ defense of the president during the press briefing on Tuesday, the White House press secretary made the eye-raising claim that Trump has already created more jobs for black people than his predecessor President Barack Obama did in two terms. From Sanders (emphasis ours):

“Just look at the economy alone, this president since he took office – in the year and a half that he’s been here – has created 700,000 new jobs for African-Americans. That’s 700,000 African-Americans that are working now that weren’t working when this president took place. When President Obama left, after eight years in office – eight years in office – he had only created 195,000 jobs for African-Americans. President Trump, in his first year and a half, has already tripled what President Obama did in eight years.

The only problem is that Sanders’ numbers for black job growth under Obama appear to be way off base.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of African-Americans employed increased by 2,955,000 between January 2009 – when Obama took office – and January 2017 – when Trump was sworn in as president. Since Trump took over, the number has increased another 708,000 according to the BLS.

So while Sanders’s numbers for black employment under Trump were correct, the numbers for Obama were vastly under-counted.

Additionally, under Obama, the black unemployment rate fell from a high of 16.8% in March 2010, the depths of the recession, to 7.8% in January 2017. From Obama’s inauguration to Trump inauguration, the black unemployment rate fell 4.9 percentage points from 12.7% to 7.8%. Since Trump took office, it has declined another 1.2 percentage points from 7.8% to 6.6%.

A few hours after the remark, the president’s Council of Economic Advisors clarified the numbers on Twitter.

The CEA took the black job creation numbers from November 2008, when Obama was elected, through July 2010 -20 months after the election – and compared them to the 20 months after Obama’s re-election and Trump’s win. Sanders appeared to have taken the sum of Obama’s two 20 month periods and compared to Trump’s first 20 months.

Sanders also issued an apology also via Twitter.

“Correction from today’s briefing: Jobs numbers for Pres Trump and Pres Obama were correct, but the time frame for Pres Obama wasn’t,” Sanders said. “I’m sorry for the mistake, but no apologies for the 700,000 jobs for African Americans created under President Trump.”

While this explains where Sanders derived the claim, the numbers still contain issues. For one thing, the use of November as the start point is questionable given that a president’s election does not mean they have taken office.

Second, the numbers lack the context that Obama took over during the depths of the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. Trump, on the other hand, took over after nearly a decade into an economic recovery.