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Linda Qiu
By Linda Qiu March 11, 2016

No, GDP growth was not zero, as Donald Trump said in Miami GOP debate

Donald Trump held up lifeless economic growth as evidence that America isn’t great anymore during the Republican primary debate in Miami.

"GDP (gross domestic product) was zero essentially for the last two quarters," he said. "If that ever happened in China, you would have had a depression like nobody's ever seen before. They go down to 7 percent, 8 percent, and it's a national tragedy. We're at zero, we're not doing anything."

Assuming that Trump was talking about growth in GDP and not the real gross domestic product (which was more than $18 trillion in the last quarter of 2015), his statement that it’s zero is an exaggeration.

In reality, GDP grew at an annual rate of 1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, and 2 percent in the third quarter, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.


Percent change

GDP in dollars

2015, Q4


$18.15 trillion

2015, Q3


$18.06 trillion

2015, Q2


$17.91 trillion

2015, Q1


$17.65 trillion

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2014, Q4


$17.62 trillion

2014, Q3


$17.52 trillion

2014, Q2


$17.27 trillion

2014, Q1


$16.98 trillion


Compared to China’s 6.9 percent in 2015, that may seem like scant growth. But it’s not zero, nor is it historically low — a point Trump tried to make and flubbed in his June 2015 presidential announcement speech.

"The last quarter, it was just announced, our gross domestic product … was below zero. Who ever heard of this? It's never below zero," he said back then.

We rated that claim Pants on Fire, noting that economic growth dipped below zero no less than 42 times since 1947.

Trump doesn’t have the new talking point down, either.

Our ruling

Trump said, "GDP was zero essentially for the last two quarters."

Economic growth in the last two quarters of 2015 was modest: 1 percent and 2 percent. But that’s not zero.

We rate Trump’s claim False.

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No, GDP growth was not zero, as Donald Trump said in Miami GOP debate

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