What’s the Big Deal?

Economy adds 223K jobs in May, unemployment down to 3.8 percent

President Trump on Friday touted the monthly federal jobs report roughly an hour before the data was released, a breach with decades of protocol that could lead to accusations he was sending a signal to traders.

Trump in a 7:21 a.m. tweet on wrote that he was “looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the highly anticipated data on schedule at 8:30 a.m. It was a strong report, showing the economy added 223,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent.

A federal rule states that federal workers should not comment on the jobs report until an hour after it has been released, though administration officials have in the past made comments before that hour was up.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CNBC that Trump’s tweet was appropriate because he did not “put the numbers out,” but confirmed the president was briefed on the report Thursday night. I’ve got more on Trump’s latest controversial tweet here.

 

So what? The release of the jobs numbers is always huge news on Wall Street, and can lead to millions in shares changing hands. As a result, Trump’s tweet, which appeared to signal the report would be positive even if it did not include any numbers, led to immediate criticism.

 

Reactions:

  • “If the president just tipped that the numbers are good, he broke the law.” — Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama.
  • “This certainly was a no-no. The advance info is sacrosanct – not to be shared.’ — Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush.
  • “If during the Clinton or Obama Administrations there had been a statement from @POTUS or anyone senior official in the morning before the Employment Report it would have been a major scandal–with all sorts of investigations following on.” — Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.

 

Now about the actual jobs report: The U.S. economy added a robust 223,000 jobs in May, which was better than expected, as the labor market maintained steady growth.

The unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent, the lowest level since April 2000, and a slight drop from 3.9 percent, the Labor Department reported on Friday.

Job gains were 15,000 more than previously reported in March and April.

During the last three months, jobs added averaged 179,000. Expectations were for a May gain of about 200,000.

The economy, which Trump administration officials say is headed toward a 3 percent pace of growth, grew at a 2.2 percent rate in the January to March quarter, slower than initially reported, the Commerce Department reported on Wednesday. The Hill’s Vicki Needham has more on the numbers here.

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