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Jobs report: 'total' winners and losers

Jobs report: 'total' winners and losers

Photo: Better days: Remember when Donald Trump met Barack Obama in the White House on Nov. 9? Barely, right?

By TATIANA PROPHET

Photo: Better days: Remember when Donald Trump met Barack Obama in the White House on Nov. 9? Barely, right?

By TATIANA PROPHET

Aside from the obviously soaring stock market, is the economy white hot?

When it comes to total jobs added, in his last year in office, Obama beat Trump in his first year in office -- by a slim margin -- at 2.2 million total payroll jobs added versus 2.1 million in 2017.

When it comes to growth in Gross Domestic Product, Trump's economy in his first year in office beats Obama's in his last year in office.

Clearly something is going on in manufacturing. Under Trump, the economy added 196,000 manufacturing jobs in 2017, while it lost 16,000 jobs in 2016.

Can Trump take credit? By yammering on about China for the last two years, maybe he can.

We’ve always kept score when it comes to Presidents and the economy. One of the most memorable arguments of the last few decades was when Republicans claimed that in 2001, President George W. Bush inherited a recession from his predecessor, Bill Clinton. Clinton had ended his tenure with a budget surplus, but Bush had a point; the dot-com bubble was already burst.

Everyone knows the president doesn't have an "economy" button; yet they love to argue about whether "their" President can take credit.

Yes, we all know the economy follows a boom-bust cycle like clockwork, every few years. Still, there are things a President (and the rest of the government) can do to help or hinder the situation.

Now, of course, we've all started acting like toddlers and comparing Trump to Obama in almost every way.

So let’s take a look at the economy of 2017. It is as unprecedented as President Trump is claiming?

There are several economic indicators that show the whole picture. Gross Domestic Product is a big one, showing the value of all the goods and services produced in a year. So while the last two quarters grew above 3 percent,  it’s still a little too early to tell (until the 4th quarter GDP growth numbers come in).

The jobs reports are intriguing. While Trump didn't win overall, he won in terms of the overall unemployment rate, as well as African American unemployment.

Yes, it’s true that unemployment, at 4.1 percent in December, was at its lowest rate since 1999 (when it was 3.9 percent). And it’s also true, as President Trump gleefully tweeted this week, that African American unemployment is at the lowest rate since the government began keeping records in 1972.

Reasons for the change in African American employment are still unclear, but manufacturing, at 196,000, made a huge comeback in 2017. Contrast that with manufacturing in 2016, which lost 16,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So while the President is generally not hugely responsible for the amount of jobs added, it’s probably safe to say that Trump’s emphasis on bringing jobs back for the forgotten men and women of the nation’s manufacturing and mining towns has had some effect.

Construction added 30,000 jobs in December, with most of the increase among specialty trade contractors (at 24,000). In 2017, construction employment increased by 210,000, compared with a gain of 155,000 in 2016.

Professional and business services, an industry that hasn’t lost any jobs since at least the 1980s, added the most jobs of any industry in 2017, with a total of 527,000 jobs added. That category includes Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services, Management of Companies and Enterprises, and Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services.

Education and healthcare, a sector that hasn’t lost any jobs in at least 20 years, also added 300,000 jobs in 2017 – down from 379,000 in 2016.

But it was retail jobs that suffered the biggest loss in 2017 – at 66,500 jobs – a condition that may have nothing to do with the President. Other industries that lost jobs in 2017 were "information," at 40,000, and utilities, at 4,400 (due to the Charter-Time Warner merger, perhaps?).

If you don't believe me, here is The Wall Street Journal essentially saying the same thing. Donald Trump deserves some credit, but Obama's economy was recovering steadily. It just wasn't a growth powerhouse.

Here are the top states to find a job, according to CNBC.

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