Contrary to President Trump’s frequent claims of the “best economy ever,” his best year for job growth fell below his predecessor’s last years in office. In fact, Trump will become the first president since World War II to lose jobs.

The U.S. saw some of its strongest job gains during the middle of President Obama’s second term — in 2014 and 2015 — when more than 225,000 new jobs were being added every month. The employment growth continued under Trump until March 2020, when the coronavirus began to impact the country and the unemployment rate soon approached a staggering 15%.

Trump’s tax cut triggered his best year for new jobs (2.31 million) in 2018. The president’s average monthly job gains would peak strongly at 193,000 before devastation from the pandemic destroyed a decade’s worth of growth fostered largely under Obama. Five months after the first U.S. cases of COVID-19 were reported, fewer than half of those newer jobs had returned.

Trump has often touted his lower unemployment numbers, which fell to 3.5% in late 2019. The fewer job losses sustained through early 2020, in keeping with a trend that began during Obama’s first term. The unemployment numbers had already stood at 4.7% before Trump was sworn in. In August, the rate stabilized at a still high, but not unprecedented, 8.4%.

On balance, over a three-year period, Obama’s presidency saw 1.6 million more new jobs than Trump, or 43,000 more per month on average. Under Trump, nearly 1.93 million private-sector jobs were added in 2019, the fewest on record since 2010.

Trump's presidency, which ends on Jan. 20, is expected to close on a poor note, as the economy lost 140,000 jobs in December and the year-end economy was short roughly 4 million jobs.

Overall, Obama created 11.6 million jobs in eight years, while Trump is expected to lose an estimated 3 million jobs. 

The overall economy had a poor start early into Obama’s presidency, initially growing at a rate of less than 1% due to the credit crisis that began in September 2008. In Obama's first term, the U.S. lost 358,000 non-farm jobs.

The growth rate grew to 2.3% in Obama's second term. As the Trump era closes, the economy is positioned to average slightly above 0% overall.