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U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine had an old prediction tossed back at him during a debate this summer.
It was thrown by moderator Judy Woodruff, the anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour. She reminded Kaine that in 2016, when he was the Democratic nominee for vice president, he said the election of then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump "would be a disaster for the economy."
Woodruff asked Kaine to square that with the strong economic results during the first 18 months of the Trump administration: about 3 million new jobs, the unemployment rate dipping below 4 percent, and "soaring" corporate profits.
Kaine replied, "The national economy was strong, in its longest expansion in private sector jobs, before President Trump came into office."
We fact-checked Kaine’s claim that Trump, when he became president on Jan. 20, 2017, inherited the nation’s longest expansion of private jobs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps monthly records on private sector employment back to 1939. They show that the U.S. experienced 82 months straight months of private sector job growth before Trump became president - from March 2010 through December 2016, when Barack Obama was in the White House. That easily qualifies for the longest streak during the eight decades the BLS had been keeping the statistics prior to Trump’s presidency.
The streak is still alive under Trump and - through August 2018, the latest statistics are available - is up to 112 months.
The second longest streak was 64 months. It ran from May 1995 through October 2000, when Bill Clinton was president. The longest continuous drop in private employment lasted 22 months - from January 2008 through October 2009 during the Great Recession. That was during the last year of George W. Bush’s administration and the first year of Obama’s.
Presidents from both political parties traditionally have been quick to claim the credit for good economies and fast to dodge the blame when times turn bad. Economists have repeatedly told us it’s mostly a political dance; that the policies of presidents and governors don’t drive economic ups and downs.
Kaine said, "The national economy was strong in its largest expansion of private sector jobs before President Trump came into office." Data shows he’s right.
We rate his statement True.
Tim Kaine, Remarks in a U.S. Senate race debate, July 21, 2018 (24:44 mark on tape).
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Total private sector jobs, accessed Aug. 1, 2018.
BLS, unemployment rate, accessed Aug. 8, 2018.
Trading Economics, U.S. corporate profits, accessed Aug. 8, 2018.
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