Who's responsible for bringing unemployment down: Obama or Trump?
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Who's responsible for bringing unemployment down: Obama or Trump?

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. unemployment rate has dropped to 3.9 percent, the lowest it has been in 17 years. Trump and his supporters say the low unemployment rate is a sign of President Trump's success. His pro-business policies are encouraging the creation of new jobs and putting America back to work. Others say Trump inherited a strong economy from former President Obama, and it was Obama's policies and leadership that made the difference. What do you think? 🇺🇸

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The U.S. unemployment rate has dropped to 3 percent—the lowest it has been in 17 years—according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

President Trump has touted the low unemployment rate as proof of his success. During his State of the Union address, Trump noted African-American unemployment, in particular, is at "the lowest rate ever recorded."

Trump said he "inherited a mess" from former president Obama, and Trump's budget director Mick Mulvaney claimed—without evidence—that the numbers posted by the Obama administration were purposely misleading to make the economy look better than it was.

"What you should really look at is the number of jobs created," Mulvaney said on "State of the Union." "We've thought for a long time, I did, that the Obama administration was manipulating the numbers, in terms of the number of people in the workforce, to make the unemployment rate—that percentage rate—look smaller than it actually was."

Many believe that President Trump's pro-business policies, aggressive deregulation and GOP tax bill are having a direct effect on the economy. Obama regulations were choking the American economy. Trump's swift actions to undo Obama's efforts spurred the economy and encouraged businesses to create jobs.

But experts argue it was Obama who successfully righted the American economy after the recession hit. The economic gains we're currently seeing are all directly attributable to former President Obama's efforts.

The current economic expansion just became the third-longest on record. The economy has been adding jobs every month for more than six years, the longest winning streak since World War II. And the federal budget deficit has sharply declined from a high of 9.8 percent of GDP in the middle of the Great Recession to a manageable 3.2 percent last year.

When it comes to job creation, the economy has been adding jobs for 78 months in a row. Saying Trump is responsible for the current economy is completely disingenuous—his main efforts have been to undo Obama's legacy, many of which are directly responsible for the economic gains the U.S. is seeing.

So why would he want to make you think it’s a “mess”? The most likely reason, in my view, is that portraying the current state of the economy as rotten helps the administration justify the wholesale change in policies that it is planning. It also lowers the starting bar so that it’s easier to declare victory later.

As far as black unemployment is concerned, while the number has in fact fallen, it has been doing so steadily for years. And as Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA.) points out, the real issue in the black community is underemployment, not just unemployment.

“Black unemployment has been on the decline since 2011, and it’s declined in other years more than in Trump’s one year,” Richmond said. “But what he doesn’t talk about is African-American underemployment. He doesn’t talk about the fact that black unemployment is twice that of white unemployment. He doesn’t talk about wage gaps between the two races, wealth disparities, income disparities…and you will see that it is a very basic and adolescent way to look at African American communities.”
“He’s standing on the back of the success of President Obama and his economy,” Richmond added.
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