Fact-checking Trump's State of the Union 2019 address

Photo illustration of Donald Trump.
Copyright NBC News Getty Images
By Jane C. Timm and Carrie Dann with NBC News Politics
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NBC examines claims about the economy, manufacturing and immigration.


President Donald Trump is delivering his second State of the Union address on Tuesday, in which he called for bipartisan cooperation from a divided Congress to accomplish his vision for America.

NBC News is fact-checking his speech as it happens.

Claim: Trump's administration has created 600,000 manufacturing jobs

Trump's figure is close. The U.S. has added 454,000 manufacturing jobs since Trump took office in January 2017, some of the biggest gains in 20 years, according to jobs data. Trump's numbers mark an acceleration of a trend that began in 2010 under former President Barack Obama.

Still, after decades of automation and change to the industry in the U.S., manufacturing is a much smaller part of the country's economy than it was decades ago. While 19.5 million people were employed in the manufacturing industry in 1979, there were 12.8 million Americans in the industry in late 2018.

Claim: Trump says he launched an 'unprecedented economic boom'

"In just over two years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom — a boom that has rarely been seen before," Trump said.

Trump took office amid a booming economy, and he's been taking credit for it since day one. But there's no evidence he created this boom. Some economists argue he boosted growth with tax cuts — turbocharging an already booming economy — while others argue the government shutdown, tariffs, and trade war have slowed growth.

Most can agree, however, that Trump's economy — something he touts among his biggest successes — has been built upon the upward trajectory that began under Obama.

And while America's economy is strong, it has grown at a faster rate in earlier years. In 1983, for example, the nation's annual GDP was 7.9 percent. In the second quarter of 2018, the GDP was 4.2 percent.

Claim: Trump says unemployment is at its lowest rate in 'half a century'

Trump's figure is accurate, though it's notably a continuation of a strong growth trend begun after the recession ended in 2010.

When unemployment ticked down to 3.7 percent in September 2018, that indeed marked the lowest jobless rate since December 1969, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the jobless rate has since ticked back up to 4.0 In January , which is above the 3.8 percent achieved in the Clinton administration in April 2000.

It's certainly true that the economy is in a much-improved place now than it was a decade ago. Joblessness has steadily declined since the end of the economic recession in 2010.

But it's a fuzzier picture when it comes to whether Trump deserves credit for the low unemployment rate or whether he has continued a trend started by the Obama administration. In the 24 months since Trump has been in office, total non-farm employment has grown by nearly 4.9 million. Over the same period of time (24 months) at the end of Obama's tenure, total non-farm employment grew by about 5.1 million.

Claim: Trump boasts of energy 'revolution,' says U.S. is now No.1 producer of oil and natural gas

Trump said Tuesday night that "we have unleashed a revolution in American energy — the United States is now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas in the world."

While it's true that U.S. is the leading producer of both oil and gas in the world, the president is claiming undue credit. That's been the case since the middle of the Obama administration.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that in 2017, the United States produced the mostpetroleum anddry natural gas of any country in the world.

But that's not a recent phenomenon, either. The U.S. has topped the production charts in both categories since 2013 (for petroleum) and 2011 (for natural gas).

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