Trump Says Women’s Unemployment Is “Historically Low” — Here’s Why That’s Misleading
News dropped Friday that the economy is continuing on its upward trend, and Trump hasn't stopped celebrating. On Twitter Sunday morning, Trump said unemployment is "historically low" for women, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and African Americans. But here's why statistics suggest his victory dance is a little exaggerated and premature.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or the measure used to track economic growth, grew at an annual rate of 4.1 percent in the second quarter of the year, the Department of Commerce reported, according to The New York Times. Trump tweeted on Sunday morning, "The biggest and best results coming out of the good GDP report was that the quarterly Trade Deficit has been reduced by $52 Billion and, of course, the historically low unemployment numbers, especially for African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Women."
First, Trump's claim is partially true: Unemployment is down across all of those demographics, but it's not historically low.
While unemployment for women has been down over the past few years, it’s actually risen over the previous month. Specifically, it was at 4 percent in June 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an increase from 3.6 percent in May. But, yes, unemployment for women — and for the nation, generally — has been declining steadily since about 2010, according to global economics research company Trading Economics, about two years after President Barack Obama took office.
But, even though Trump is right when he says unemployment is down for women, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and African Americans, there's no real proof that Trump administration policies are the reason why, according to The New York Times.
Trump also claimed that low unemployment was due to his policies last August, according to The Times. At that time, the unemployment rate had fallen by more than half since October 2009, during the Great Recession. But that decline began and then steadily continued almost entirely during Obama's tenure, and Trump continues to ride the wave of those policies now early into his presidency.
It's unclear why Trump called out women specifically in his Sunday morning tweet, since he hasn't passed any policies that specifically target women's unemployment. He's called out specific demographics like this in tweets before, though, and analysts think it's an effort to get the attention of groups who didn't support him in the 2016 election, NPR reported. For example, Trump overwhelmingly lost the African American, Asian American, and Hispanic vote. And women were divided in their support of him. The majority of white women supported Trump, but women of other races didn't.
Even though unemployment fell for women, it's important to note that wage growth is stagnant — a problem that hurts women and people of color more than others, according to CNN. Wages were supposed to increase thanks to Trump's tax cuts, but according to Bloomberg, they have actually fallen.
Women are more likely to work part-time jobs, where wages are shown to grow at the slowest rate. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, women are more likely to "choose" to work part-time than men because part-time jobs "are more compatible with their outsized unpaid work responsibilities including household work and childcare." According to the center:
When asked why they work part time, women answer “Child care problems” at more than seven times the rate that men do, and are almost four times more likely than men to cite “Other family/personal obligations.”
A July report in Fatherly also noted that a low unemployment rate doesn't mean as much to parents when the costs of child care continue to rise. (And parents are among those workers who more often work part-time.)
Lower unemployment for women is a net positive, but policy change that helps them make more money — that would be something to tweet about.