Fact Check: Donald Trump’s Nov. 1 rally in Columbia

The president’s claims during the rally about the economy and the midterms, when based in truth, seemed to be misleading.

President Donald Trump made various statements Thursday about record economic numbers and Sen. Claire McCaskill’s stance on immigration during his rally at Columbia Regional Airport. The Maneater fact-checked these claims to see how they held up.

Claim: “We have more Americans working than any time in American history,” Trump said.

Verdict: True, but misleading. There are currently more Americans working than ever before, as Trump said. The number of employed Americans has reached a high of 155.9 million workers as of September 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, while this is an all-time high for number of employed Americans, it is not an all-time high of employment relative to the eligible population. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also measures employment-population ratio, in which they can determine the proportion of working-age Americans who are employed. As of September 2018, the employment-population ratio is at 60.4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is around 4 percentage points below the all-time high of 64.7 percent, which occurred in April 2000. So while Trump is correct to say the number of employed Americans is higher than ever, the ratio sits below its record proportion from 2000.

Claim: Automobile plants are “moving to Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania,” Trump said while talking about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Verdict: Somewhat true. Many publications have examined Trump’s claims about the automobile industry and new plants in the U.S. Trump’s claims about a new plant in Michigan are somewhat true. In January 2018, Fiat Chrysler announced it would invest in an already-existing plant in Warren, Michigan, in order to move production there by 2020, according to Reuters. The investment would create a total of 2,500 jobs, according to the announcement from Fiat Chrysler, but the plant itself was already in existence. The claim that any automobile moved to Pennsylvania since 2016, however, is false. When the Washington Post analyzed this same statement in September, they said: “We couldn’t find any evidence of a new car plant being built in Pennsylvania since Trump took office.”

Claim: “Hawley is up in the polls, but let’s pretend he’s a point behind,” Trump said, encouraging attendees to vote Republican.

Verdict: Misleading. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley does not seem to be consistently ahead in the latest polls from Missouri’s U.S. Senate race. The most recent poll on FiveThirtyEight’s forecast for the race, an Oct. 25 poll by Harris Interactive, shows McCaskill leading by a margin of 1.2 percent. Another recent poll by Fox News shows the race tied at 44 percent each. However, Hawley was also shown leading as recently as Oct. 27, when a poll from Cygnal had him ahead of McCaskill 49 percent to 46 percent. It can be hard to assess whether Hawley is ahead, behind or tied, as three different polls in the last week showed three different results. He does not, however, have a consistent lead in polls, but neither does McCaskill.

Claim: “African American and Hispanic poverty rates are at an all time low,” Trump said.

Verdict: True. According to Politifact, the African-American poverty rate reached a record low in 2017 at 21.2 percent and for Hispanics at 18.3 percent. It is worth noting, as Politifact mentions, “the poverty rate had fallen for several years running under [Trump’s] predecessor, President Barack Obama. So the pattern stems from the generally improving economy under both presidents.”

Claim: McCaskill is sponsoring an amnesty bill right now in the Senate, Hawley said.

Verdict: Misleading and mostly false. In 2013, McCaskill voted for a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to legally apply for citizenship. However, the program isn’t necessarily amnesty. An ad in early September run by the the Senate Leadership Fund (a Republican political action committee), claimed that McCaskill voted to give amnesty to “11 million illegal immigrants without border protections in place,” the ad said. The bill actually requires people to apply for a six year provisional status, as reported by the Associated Press and the Missourian. “After a decade, those on provisional status would have been able to apply for permanent legal status if they agreed to a series of rules that included learning English and paying taxes and an additional $1,000 fine,” according to AP.

Edited by Stephi Smith | ssmith@themaneater.com

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