Has the Economy Gained as Many Jobs Under Biden as It Lost Under Trump?

A viral post leaves out important context about the pandemic.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund—a leftist advocacy group that is a sister organization to the Center for American Progress think tank—claimed in a recent Facebook post that former President Donald Trump oversaw the loss of 3 million American jobs during his administration, while President Joe Biden had created 3 million jobs in just the first five months of his time in office.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in January 2021, total nonfarm employment in the United States was at 142,736,000 jobs. Biden was inaugurated on January 20, 2021, and by the end of June, his fifth full month in office, that number was 145,759,000, an increase of 3,023,000 jobs.

When Trump entered office in January 2016, there were 145,612,000 nonfarm jobs in America. Nonfarm employment under Trump steadily increased until it peaked in February 2020 at 152,523,000 jobs. Employment decreased sharply in March when the worldwide coronavirus pandemic shut down the U.S. economy, getting as low as 132,994,000 in May 2020 before the number of jobs began to increase again. With total nonfarm employment at 145,612,000 when Trump entered office and at 142,736,000 by the time he left, nonfarm employment decreased by 2,876,000 jobs. 

But these job losses were driven in large part by the financial crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic; the massive job losses that occurred during the Trump administration took place during the first few months of the pandemic, during which time states put in place their most stringent lockdown and stay-at-home measures. Some economists  say the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic may have hurt jobs numbers by preventing a faster economic recovery, but the initial massive losses were driven by the pandemic itself. As other fact checkers have pointed out, the job gains that have been made during the Biden administration are largely a product of the economy rebounding from those pandemic-caused losses.

While it is correct to say that Trump left office with nonfarm employment 3 million jobs lower than when he entered office, and that nonfarm employment has increased by 3 million jobs since Biden was inaugurated, the Center for American Progress Action’s Facebook post leaves out important context about how the coronavirus pandemic affected employment during both of their presidencies. 

If you have a claim you would like to see us fact check, please send us an email at factcheck@thedispatch.com. If you would like to suggest a correction to this piece or any other Dispatch article, please email corrections@thedispatch.com.