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AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s Claims in State of Union Address

USA

06 February 2019, 09:18

M.News

The Associated Press is fact-checking remarks from President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech. Here’s a look at some of the claims we’ve examined, VOA news reports.

MINORITY UNEMPLOYMENT

TRUMP: “African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded.”

THE FACTS: What he’s not saying is that the unemployment rates for all three groups have gone up since reaching record low levels.

Black unemployment reached a record low, 5.9 percent, in May, but rose to 6.8 percent in January.

Latino unemployment fell to 4.4 percent, its lowest ever, last October, and Asian unemployment fell to a record low of 2.2 percent in May. But Latino and Asian unemployment also have increased, in part because of the government shutdown, which elevated unemployment last month.

The African-American rate is still nearly double the jobless rate for whites, at 3.5 percent.

The most dramatic drop in black unemployment came under President Barack Obama, when it fell from a recession high of 16.8 percent in March 2010 to 7.8 percent in January 2017.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING

TRUMP: “Human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide open areas between our ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery.”

THE FACTS: His administration has not supplied evidence that women and girls are smuggled by the “thousands” across remote areas of the border for these purposes. What has been established is nearly 80 percent of international trafficking victims cross through legal ports of entry, a flow that would not be stopped by a border wall.

Trump distorts how often trafficking victims come from the southern border, according the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative , a global hub for trafficking statistics with data contributed by organizations from around the world.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline, a venture supported by federal money and operated by the anti-trafficking group Polaris , began tracking individual victim records in 2015. From January through June 31, 2018, it tracked 35,000 potential victims. Of those, there was a near equal distribution between foreigners on one hand and U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents on the other.

Most of the labor trafficking victims were foreign, and most of the sex trafficking victims were U.S. citizens. Of foreign nationals, Mexico had the most frequently trafficked.

ECONOMY

TRUMP: “In just over two years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom _ a boom that has rarely been seen before. There’s been nothing like it. … An economic miracle is taking place in the United States.”

THE FACTS: The president is vastly exaggerating what has been a mild improvement in growth and hiring. The economy is healthy but not nearly one of the best in U.S. history.

The economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.8 percent last spring and summer, a solid pace. But it was just the fastest in four years. In the late 1990s, growth topped 4 percent for four straight years, a level it has not yet reached under Trump. And growth even reached 7.2 percent in 1984.

Almost all independent economists expect slower growth this year as the effect of the Trump administration’s tax cuts fade, trade tensions and slower global growth hold back exports, and higher interest rates make it more expensive to borrow to buy cars and homes.

WOMEN IN WORKFORCE

TRUMP, in prepared excerpts: “All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before.”

THE FACTS: Of course, there are more women working than ever before. But that’s due to population growth _ and not something that Trump can credit to any his policies.

The big question is whether a greater percentage of women is working or searching for a job than at any point in history. And on this count, women have enjoyed better times.

Women’s labor force participation rate right now is 57.5 percent, according to the Labor Department. The rate has ticked up recently, but it was higher in 2012 and peaked in 2000 at roughly 60 percent.

ENERGY

TRUMP: “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.”

THE FACTS: True, if “we” means Trump and his recent predecessors. It’s not all to Trump’s credit. The government says the U.S. became the world’s top natural gas producer in 2013, under Barack Obama’s administration.

The U.S. now leads the world in oil production, too, under Trump. That’s largely because of a boom in production from shale oil, which also began under Obama.

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