- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2017

The first monthly employment report under President Trump showed businesses adding 235,000 jobs in February, the unemployment rate falling slightly to 4.7 percent and Mr. Trump becoming a believer in what he once derided as a rigged statistic.

In further good news, the Labor Department said wages grew 2.8 percent from February 2016. And the labor participation rate, which shows the share of working-age people in the workforce, rose slightly to 63 percent, the highest since last March. The number of people out of the labor force dropped by 176,000, to 94.2 million.

A grinning White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he specifically asked the president Friday morning if he believed the jobs report.

“They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now,” Mr. Trump told his spokesman.

After the New Hampshire Republican primary last year, Mr. Trump said, “Don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment. The number’s probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump ally, said the report is an early indication that employers are responding to the president’s push for cutting red tape and lowering taxes.

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump now a believer in government jobs report

“This is the beginning of turning the Trump rally into the Trump reality,” Mr. Gingrich said on “Fox & Friends.”

However, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said the strong hiring numbers were results of policies of the previous administration. “Thanks, Obama!” Mr. Perez said.

Mr. Perez, who served as labor secretary under Mr. Obama, tweeted that “Trump has had about as much to do with job growth since January 20th as he does with the Washington Wizards’ winning record: absolutely nothing.”

“Trump inherited an economy from Barack Obama with the longest streak of private sector job growth in history,” he said in a statement. Indeed, employers added nearly the same number of jobs — 227,000 — in January as they did in February.

Mr. Perez said Mr. Trump’s policies “are taking us backwards by giving all the benefits to the richest Americans.”

The strong jobs report also reinforces the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this month, as Fed Chair Janet Yellen has suggested.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, Texas Republican, called it a “great report” and portrayed it as part of an economic drive that includes a Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Many conservatives aren’t supporting the legislation.

“Ways and Means Republicans voted to deliver relief from hundreds of billions of dollars in health care taxes that have crushed our workers and job creators,” Mr. Brady said. “And we’re not stopping there. We are committed to fully repealing and replacing Obamacare, delivering a tax code ‘built for growth’ and cutting Washington’s red tape to create even more economic opportunities in America.”

Construction jobs rose by 58,000, the most since March 2007, following an increase of 40,000 construction workers in January. Manufacturers added 28,000 jobs in February, a three-year high.

Federal payrolls increased by 2,000 in the first full month of the Trump administration, despite a hiring freeze for agencies not involved in national security.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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