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Trump Adviser Says President’s GDP Tweet Had an Extra Zero

Terrence Dopp, Toluse Olorunnipa, Jeff Kearns
U.S. President Donald Trump sits during a meeting with Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, Kuwait's emir, not pictured, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. Trump said during the meeting that Iran's future as a country is in doubt amid public discontent with the Islamic Republic.

One of Donald Trump’s top economic advisers said the president erred in a tweet asserting growth in U.S. gross domestic product was higher than the unemployment rate for the first time in over a century.

Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, acknowledged the claim was wrong after media organizations including Bloomberg News published historical data showing the benchmark had been passed many times since 1948.

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“I can tell you what is true,” Hassett said, when asked about the inconsistency at a White House briefing Monday. “It’s the highest in 10 years.”

Hassett said he suspected someone “added a 0” to the fact as it was “conveyed” to the president.

“The GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years!” Trump said Monday in a posting on Twitter.

Trump regularly deletes and re-posts tweets to correct misspellings or to rephrase his points. But the false tweet about GDP and unemployment remained online on Monday night, hours after Hassett conceded the error.

The president appeared to double down Monday night with a video on Twitter hailing his management of the economy. It began with a 2016 statement by President Barack Obama, questioning assertions by Trump, who he didn’t name, that he would restore American factory jobs. "What magic wand do you have? And, usually, the answer is he doesn’t have an answer," Obama said. But the Trump tweet cuts off the second sentence of that quote and segues into Trump talking about growth in manufacturing jobs.

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Trump, in an earlier tweet on Monday, misquoted Obama on the magic wand quote, saying that the former president had been talking about GDP, which he wasn’t.

In the 70 years since the Labor Department started publishing monthly jobless numbers, the growth rate has been higher than the unemployment level more than 20 percent of the time when compared with GDP, which is reported quarterly.

GDP growth exceeded the jobless rate as recently as the first quarter of 2006, when unemployment was about 4.7 percent and quarterly GDP growth was 5.4 percent, government data show.

The Trump administration has recently promoted false statistics on jobless rates and the stock market’s performance as it has touted Trump’s record on the economy.

Last month, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders asserted to reporters that Trump had tripled Obama’s eight-year job creation record for black workers in just 18 months, quoting numbers that were not even close to accurate.

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“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 told reporters. “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.”

The U.S. economy added about 3 million jobs for black workers while Obama was in office, according to BLS data. Hassett’s office took responsibility in a tweet for providing Sanders with inaccurate data.

On Sunday, Trump said in a tweet that “the Stock Market is up almost 50% since Election.”

That’s not the case for the S&P 500 Index, which has increased about 35 percent since Trump was elected on Nov. 8, 2016.

Before taking office, Trump regularly accused federal officials of falsifying economic data.

Updates with tweet still up and new tweet, beginning in seventh paragraph.

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