Sarah Sanders apologizes for false claim about African-American jobs

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a rare correction Tuesday night after falsely declaring tha...

Posted: Aug 16, 2018 10:22 AM
Updated: Aug 16, 2018 10:22 AM

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a rare correction Tuesday night after falsely declaring that President Donald Trump has created three times as many jobs for African-American workers as former President Barack Obama did during his two terms in office.

"Correction from today's briefing: Jobs numbers for Pres Trump and Pres Obama were correct, but the time frame for Pres Obama wasn't. I'm sorry for the mistake, but no apologies for the 700,000 jobs for African Americans created under President Trump," Sanders wrote in a tweet.

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During the briefing, as she sought to defend the President's record on race, Sanders said Trump has already tripled Obama's record over eight years for creating jobs for black workers.

"This President since he took office, in the year and a half that he's been here, has created 700,000 new jobs for African-Americans," Sanders said from the White House podium. "That's 700,000 African-Americans that are working now that weren't working when this President took place. When President Obama left, after eight years in office, he had only created 195,000 jobs for African-Americans."

But that's not even close to true, according to Labor Department figures.

Hours after the briefing, after Bloomberg News pointed out the inaccuracy, the White House Council of Economic Advisers apologized for the figure. It posted a tweet citing a "miscommunication" to Sanders.

While it's true that the US economy has added about 700,000 jobs held by African American workers since Trump took office, it added about 3 million black jobs while Obama was in office, according federal labor statistics.

When Obama took office in 2009, 15.5 million African Americans had jobs in an economy filleted by one of the country's worst recessions. When he left office, the economy had 18.4 million black workers.

But even the correction from the Council of Economic Advisers, which is tasked with providing the President with objective economic analysis, used questionable accounting to bolster the claim that Trump has helped job growth among African-Americans more than his predecessor.

Rather than tallying job growth since Trump took office in January 2017, the advisory council posted figures that include the three months since Trump's election while Obama was still president.

The time period attributes an additional 140,000 new jobs for African-Americans to Trump even though Obama was still in office. And it attributes 162,000 African-American jobs lost to Obama though it occurred during the economic recession when George W. Bush was still president.

While the CEA graphic correctly notes the figures stem from "20 months after a presidential election," presenting the statistics that way magnifies the impression that Trump has helped create more jobs for African-Americans than Obama. The comparison also ignores the economic recession that Obama inherited from his predecessor.

Sanders made the claim as she was answering questions about whether she could guarantee Trump had never been recorded using the N-word while producing "The Apprentice."

"I can't guarantee anything, but I can tell you that the President addressed this question directly," Sanders said. "I can tell you that I've never heard it."

Then, Sanders went on to argue that Trump has created more jobs for black Americans than Obama did.

"This is a President who is fighting for all Americans, who is putting policies in place that help all Americans, particularly African Americans," Sanders said. "Just look at the economy alone."

This story has been updated.

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