WASHINGTON — President Trump, who regularly argued that widely accepted government-compiled jobs figures under President Barack Obama were phony, now believes that upbeat employment statistics on his watch are “very real,” the White House said Friday.
Press secretary Sean Spicer, asked why Trump was so dismissive of the figures on the campaign trail and yet was so ready to celebrate the new jobs numbers released hours earlier, said he had discussed the matter with the president.
“He said to quote him very clearly: ‘They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now,’” Spicer said with a laugh at his daily briefing for reporters.
The spokesman’s comments came after the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs in February, beating expectations. The figures were largely in line with the previous two Februarys.
When Obama was president, Trump regularly scoffed at jobs numbers released by the Labor Department, arguing that they underestimated economic suffering under Obama.
“Don’t believe these phony numbers,” the entrepreneur told supporters in early 2016. “The 5 percent figure is one of the biggest hoaxes in American modern politics,” he said in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club in August of last year, referring to the unemployment rate.
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