VERIFY: Fact-checking President Trump’s third State of the Union address

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Our VERIFY researchers will be fact-checking President Trump's State of the Union and the Democratic response in real-time once the speech begins.

WASHINGTON — President Trump is giving his State of the Union address to the American people and a joint session of Congress.

Following Trump’s address, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar will deliver the Democratic response.

Our VERIFY researchers were fact-checking the claims and statements from both in real-time.

CLAIM: “In 8 years under the last administration, over 300,000 working-age people DROPPED OUT of the workforce. In just three years of my administration, 3.5 MILLION working-age people have JOINED the workforce.”

This claim is true, but needs context.

The number of people currently in the workforce is reflected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics “Labor Force Participation rate.” The labor force participation rate is the portion of the entire civilian population age 16 and older that is either employed or currently looking for work in the last four weeks. During President Obama’s two terms in office, the rate dropped from a high of 65.7 to 62.7 by the end of his terms. Since President Trump took office, the rate has grown from 63.8 percent to 63.2 percent. That comes out to roughly 3.7 million more people joining the workforce since President Trump took office. It’s worth noting that it’s not known whether the decrease under President Obama was actually due to people “dropping out” of the workforce as Trump claimed. At the time, the Obama administration attributed the decrease to retiring post- World War II Baby Boomers.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics “Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate”

– Jason Puckett 

CLAIM: “Unemployment is at the lowest level in more than 50 years.”


This claim is true.Currently, the last recorded unemployment rate– December 2019– was at 3.5%. The last time the unemployment rate was 3.5% or lower was in December 1969, 50 years ago. 

Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

– Eliana Block

CLAIM: “The median household income is now at the highest rate ever.”

This claim is true.

The U.S. Census has been tracking median household income since 1984. In 2018, the last year recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau, household median income was at $63,179, the highest number recorded. Some private company studies say that in June 2019 the median household income was $64,430. However, the Census Bureau hasn’t put out official numbers for 2019 yet.

Source: United States Census Bureau, Table H-8, Median Household Income by State 

– Sarah Gahagan

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