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Former Associated Press Washington Bureau Chief Ron Fournier appears to have blown an attempt to portray Michigan’s current high unemployment rate as President Donald Trump’s fault, and instead took out his state’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, instead.
In reference to Trump’s scheduled visit to a Ford Motor Company’s Rawsonville manufacturing plant in Ypsilanti on Thursday, Fournier — who is now president of a Detroit-based public relations firm — fired off a tweet suggesting that the president is responsible for Michigan joblessness.
Last time @realDonaldTrump was in Michigan, the Obama recovery was holding. Unemployment was around 3%
Now it’s at 22%
— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) May 21, 2020
“Last time @realDonaldTrump was in Michigan, the Obama recovery was holding. Unemployment was around 3% Now it’s at 22%,” he wrote.
It wasn’t long before more than a few people began pointing out to Fournier that Whitmer’s executive order shuttering businesses and quarantining her residents is much more directly responsible for the economic and employment downturn in Michigan.
You get the governor is responsible for his or her state, yes? lol
— The🐰FOO (@PolitiBunny) May 21, 2020
You know, ppl quarantined doesn’t give them much time or space to, you know, work?
— Cory C ن (@Cory_Chiarelli) May 21, 2020
I’ll play your game. Michigan shouldn’t have elected a Democrat governor. Under the past Republican the unemployment rate was around 3%. That’s how this game is played, right?
— China Must Pay (@FeistyMonk) May 21, 2020
So you’re saying that the Dem governor did a terrible job with the economy she inherited?
— Captain Oblivious Stranger (@lone_rides) May 21, 2020
You lost me and my giving any serious consideration to your point, at “the Obama recovery”.
— SMartin (@SusBriMartin) May 21, 2020
In February, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment had fallen to 3.5 percent nationally and non-farm payrolls outpaced estimates for the month, rising by 273,000 after economists had predicted job growth of 175,000.
The Labor Department reported Friday that the U.S. economy added 273,000 new jobs during the month, while the unemployment rate was 3.5%, matching its lowest level in more than 50 years. An alternative measure of joblessness that counts those not looking for work and holding part-time jobs for economic reasons edged higher to 7%.
The January and February gains tied for best month since May 2018.
In addition, the network reported that job growth figures from the previous two months had also been revised upward by tens of thousands. So clearly, the country was essentially fully employed.
As for Fournier’s “Obama recovery,” assertion, while the U.S. economy was indeed growing when the former president left office, it really took off after President Trump was inaugurated and began implementing his economic policies.
Throughout his presidency, Obama only averaged 1.6 percent growth in Gross Domestic Product, putting him behind all post-war presidents. Economic growth under Trump has been better; in 2019, the rate was 2.3 percent.
As for Michigan itself, Whitmer’s policies are directly responsible for her state’s plummeting employment figures, not President Trump. The president issued shutdown guidelines early in the pandemic but left the actual decisions to governors — which is classic federalism.
Not all states decided to shut down their economies, by the way, but some of those that remained open took some flak for the decision, including South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.
In a mid-April interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, Noem pushed back on calls to close her lightly-infected state, saying her first objective was to protect her residents’ liberties.
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