Fact-checking Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address

The State of the Union took place in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives but, ultimately, President Trump had the home-court advantage in what amounted to a one-way conversation with the American people.

In two previous speeches from the House dais — his 2017 address to the Joint Session of Congress and last year’s State of the Union — Trump used a softer tone than that in his biting Twitter feed. But by the lofty standards of a State of the Union speech, language and facts matter as much as optics and tenor. Here’s what Trump said — and how it stacked up against the facts:

International reputation

In excerpts released before his speech, Trump took credit for America’s superstar status, saying other countries envy our economy and that our military is the most powerful.

This is misleading.


America has long been considered the world’s superstar, a status that predates Trump’s time in office, going back to the end of World War II. And while the US economy has been growing during Trump’s presidency, it is a continuation of the trend since June 2009.

Women in the workforce

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In excerpts released before his speech, Trump said Americans can be proud we have more women in the workforce than ever before.

This is misleading.

The number of women in the workforce reached a new high in December, though it declined slightly in January. But that’s a result of population growth. The percentage of women with jobs peaked in 2000, at 58 percent. As of January, it was 55.2 percent.


Trump said more people are working in the United States than at any time in history.

This is misleading.

While the total number of people working in the United States is higher than ever, it’s not because of the president’s policies. It’s because more people than ever live in the United States. A more relevant way to look at this is the labor force participation rate, which measures the percentage of people working as a portion of the population. That is nowhere near a record.

The economy


Trump said the US economy is considered “far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world.”

This is false.

The US economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2018, the most recent data available. Growth in Latvia and Poland was almost twice as fast; same for China and India. Even the troubled Greek economy posted stronger growth. And a wide range of analysts estimate US economic growth slowed in the fourth quarter of 2018, then slowed even more in the first month of 2019.

Cutting regulations

Trump said no president has cut more regulations in such a short time, that he has cut more than any other administration did during its entire tenure.

This is false.

The Trump administration has slowed the pace of adopting new rules, and it has moved to roll back some existing or proposed regulations, particularly on environmental protection. The White House claimed that as of October 2018, a total of $33 billion worth of future regulatory costs had been eliminated. But experts say the scale of the rollbacks in the Trump era does not exceed massive cuts in federal rules during the Carter and Reagan administrations, when rules governing airline, truck, and rail transportation were wiped off the books, among other changes.

The economy

Trump said that the economy added almost 600,000 manufacturing jobs, and that “almost everyone” said this was impossible.

This is false.


The economy has added about 454,000 manufacturing jobs since January 2017. That is closely comparable to the pace of job creation during some two-year periods during the Obama administration, and significantly slower than the pace of job creation in manufacturing in the 1990s.

Drug prices

Trump said, “Already, as a result of my administration’s efforts, in 2018 drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years.”</strong>

This is misleading.

Under pressure from the White House, many drug companies delayed or rolled back price increases last year. But dozens of drug manufacturers raised prices on hundreds of medicines this year, in defiance of the president’s wishes. New cancer drugs, for instance cost on average more than $100,000 a year.

The economy

Trump said, “We have created 5.3 million new jobs.”

This is false.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that since January 2017, when Trump took office, the economy has added 4.9 million jobs.

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.


TRUMP, in prepared excerpts: ‘‘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.