Trump-Era GDP Growth Was Worst Since Great Depression, Analysis Shows

A key economic indicator that Donald Trump loved to boast about wasn’t so great during his time in office. Far from it.

The annualized real growth in America’s Gross Domestic Product during Trump’s administration was the worst since the Great Depression, according to updated and revised government data. And quarterly GDP data, which only dates back to Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency beginning in 1953, puts Trump dead last among the dozen presidents since then, according to Bloomberg.

The economy clearly took a hit from the coronavirus pandemic during Trump’s final year in office. But previous presidents also faced formidable troubles and the GDP fared better. GDP grew 1.8% during George W. Bush’s presidency, roiled by 9/11 and the financial industry’s subprime mortgage debacle. It increased 2.1% during Barack Obama’s term, which featured the Great Recession. Trump notched a last-place 1.6% increase.

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis has four quarters of data for each year only going back to Eisenhower’s term. 

But annual figures go all the way back to 1929. From that year to 1933, including the Great Depression when Herbert Hoover was president, annualized growth was negative 7.4%. The second-worst record since then was Trump’s, Bloomberg reported.

Bloomberg jiggles the numbers a bit to adjust the comparison periods, but Trump doesn’t come off great in any of them. Check them out here.

While GDP growth is an important indicator of the economy, it’s not typically one that presidents obsess over. Trump was different. He claimed the figure would jump as much as 6% on his watch.

A big jump in GDP growth does not necessarily indicate a healthy economy. An economy can be so wrecked, as it was during the Depression, for example, that a huge jump in the GDP may bring the economy to only middling. It also doesn’t track income inequality or the sustainability of growth, Business Insider pointed out.

The U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 6.5% in the second quarter this year, according to the latest Bureau of Economic Analysis report. That was the second-largest jump since 2003, when George W. Bush was president.

President Joe Biden cheered the report. “That’s progress,” he tweeted.

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