Trump's Unemployment Rate Almost the Same as Obama's At This Stage of Re-election Campaign

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released its jobs report for September, showing that the unemployment rate is 7.9 percent, matching levels seen under the Obama administration in 2012 as the country finally began to recover from the Great Recession and the former president was vying for his second term in office.

The new figures present a remarkably rapid recovery for the current unemployment rate compared to the same recovery in September 2012. The bottom of the recession for Barack Obama was nearly three years before the unemployment rate went down to 7.8 percent, gradually falling from a peak of 10 percent in October 2009.

In comparison, the bottom of the recession for President Donald Trump was when unemployment spiked at 14.7 percent in April of this year. Things have been steadily improving since April.

The September BLS figures show "the number of unemployed persons fell by 1 million to 12.6 million." While unemployment figures have declined for five consecutive months, they are still higher than in February, prior to the March coronavirus lockdowns, by 6.8 million.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 661,000 in September, BLS reported, still below its February level.

"Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in retail trade, in health care and social assistance, and in professional and business services. Employment declined in government, mainly in state and local government education," BLS reported.

This is a modest improvement from August, when the unemployment rate fell sharply to 8.4 percent as firms began to hire new staff and temporary hiring for the U.S. census boosted figures. August marked the first time unemployment fell beneath 10 percent since March.

Unemployed seeking work

"Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates declined in September for adult men (7.4 percent), adult women (7.7 percent), Whites (7.0 percent), and Asians (8.9 percent). The jobless rates for teenagers (15.9 percent), Blacks (12.1 percent), and Hispanics (10.3 percent) showed little change over the month.

"Among the unemployed, the number of persons on temporary layoff decreased by 1.5 million in September to 4.6 million. This measure is down considerably from the high of 18.1 million in April but is 3.8 million higher than in February. In September, the number of permanent job losers increased by 345,000 to 3.8 million; this measure has risen by 2.5 million since February. The number of unemployed job leavers rose by 212,000 to 801,000 in September. (Job leavers are persons who quit or voluntarily left their previous job and immediately began looking for new employment.)"

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Trump compared to Obama

When comparing the two presidents, the number of jobs added pre-pandemic is a good barometer for success. Under Trump, in the three years prior to the pandemic, there were an additional 6.4 million jobs. In the last three years under Obama, seven million jobs were added.

The economy is a key point for many voters, and any positive swings in job numbers bodes well for Donald Trump heading into the November Election.

As the Trump-Obama jobs comparison comes into focus, the data also shows that the jobless rate is improving faster than the national average in counties that had the most dramatic swings from former President Barack Obama to President Donald Trump back in 2016.

Of the 10 Obama-voting counties which had the greatest shifts to Trump, and for which BLS data was available, nine had a lower unemployment rate in July than the U.S. level of 10.2 percent for the same month.