The economic growth that began in Obama’s second term, essentially continued under the Trump administration, with no drastic differences.
However, that is not true. Across a broad range of economic metrics, like the GDP and unemployment rate, economic performance under Trump continued gains made during the final years under Obama. Economic data show a continuation of trends, not a dramatic shift. It suggests that Trump inherited a growing economy.
During his 2016 election campaign, Trump promised to achieve an annual growth rate of 4 percent. In the second quarter of 2017, the rate was 4.2 percent, yet below the 5.1 percent and 4.9 percent achieved in two quarters in 2014, or the 4.7 percent increase in a quarter in 2011. The average quarterly economic growth under Trump, 2.5 percent, was almost exactly what it was under Obama in the second term, 2.4 percent. The Washington Post noted that growth between 1962 and 1966 ranged from 4.4 percent to 6.6 percent. In 1950 and 1951, it was 8.7 and 8 percent, respectively, and then was 4.1 and 4.7 percent in 1952 and 1953, indicating that economic growth under Trump was not historical.
The unemployment rate plummeted to an all-time low rate in 2019 at 3.5 percent, the lowest in 50 years, since 1969. However, when Trump took office, the rate was already at 4.7 percent. In December of 2017, it was the lowest the number had been since the Great Recession. Obama saw a much steeper drop in unemployment in his second term, a 3.3 decrease in the rate, than Trump did in his first three years, a decline of 1.2 points. Moreover, the Washington Post noted that the unemployment rate was as low as 2.5 percent in 1953. It was below 3.9 percent for much of 1951, 1952, and 1953. The unemployment rate was as low as 3.4 percent in 1968 and 1969 and was 3.8 percent in 2000.
Furthermore, more jobs were added monthly in Barack Obama's second term than in Trump's first three years. The country created 215,000 new jobs a month in Obama's second term. In Trump's first three years, the figure was 182,000. The increase in job numbers has been consistent since 2011.
The data suggests that the economic performance under Trump has generally continued the pace of improvements that began during the final few years of Obama's presidency. Moreover, economic growth in the 1950s was higher than under Trump. Therefore, we conclude that Trump did not build the most robust economy.