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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, February 27, 2019 1:30 pm

Fact check: Did Ivanka Trump create 'millions' of jobs?

GLENN KESSLER | Washington Post

"My daughter Ivanka, who is going to be speaking later, is -- she has been so much involved. So incredibly involved. My daughter has created millions of jobs. I don't know if anyone knows that, but she's created millions of jobs." -- President Donald Trump, Feb. 25 remarks to U.S. governors

These remarks from the president raised eyebrows -- and inquiries from readers. The U.S. economy has added almost 4.9 million jobs since Trump became president, but regular readers know we would frown on the idea that any president himself "created" these jobs.

Now, he says his daughter Ivanka Trump created jobs. What is he talking about?

The president, as he noted a few moments later, was referring to the White House's "Pledge to America's Workers." Under the auspices of a workforce policy advisory board co-chaired by Ivanka Trump, about 200 companies have pledged to offer more than 6.5 million training opportunities to workers during the next five years.

The United States lags behind many other industrialized countries in the efforts it devotes to skill training and re-skilling workers, so it's an important issue. The White House has a snazzy Web page to promote the list of companies.

Notice we said "training opportunities," not jobs. But this is how the president described it: "These are jobs that, for the most part, would not have happened."

That's not the case, but he might have gotten confused because of the way Ivanka has talked about it.

"We're up to 6.3 million new jobs," she said at a White House event Oct. 31. "That represents 5 percent of the current workforce. So it's really remarkable."

No, it's not. Training opportunities are not new jobs.

In fact, as CNN has documented, many of these companies and organizations were already planning to offer these retraining programs. It's good the White House has gotten the numbers on record. But it's not the same thing as something new.

For instance, the Associated General Contractors of America, a construction industry trade association, is listed as pledging 172,500 opportunities.

Here's how that translates:

  • AGC chapters will enroll 6,000 apprentices a year in apprenticeship training programs, for a five-year total of 30,000.
  • Chapters also will enroll 15,000 workers a year in new-skills construction training programs, or 75,000 during the five-year period.
  • The AGC will enroll 12,500 construction workers a year, or 62,500 during five years, in a mix of up-skilling programs, including training in construction supervision, building information modeling and Lean construction, that member companies will pay for.
  • And the AGC will enroll 1,000 workers a year in AGC safety training programs, with the cost of 700 paid through a Labor Department grant.

"Most of these training programs already existed at the point of the July pledge signing," AGC spokesman Brian Turmail said. But "these figures certainly represent an increase over current training numbers and reflect the fact that our association, including our chapters and member firms, expects to train more people to fill future demand than we currently train."

Meanwhile, Associated Builders and Contractors pledged 500,000 opportunities, which compares with 476,000 trained currently on an annual basis.

"ABC and its member companies educate and up-skill more than 476,000 people across all industry positions annually, including craft professionals, field managers and leadership in technical, safety and craft-based skills," said Greg Sizemore, ABC vice president of health, safety, environment and workforce development. "We pledged to create enhanced career opportunities for 500,000 workers during the next five years."

CNN identified other existing programs, such as at General Motors (a program that started in 2016), FedEx, Walmart and the Society for Human Resource Management.

We sought comment from Ivanka Trump's office and the White House, but did not hear back.

Ivanka Trump can certainly be congratulated for getting so many companies to put their names in writing and pledge to train workers. Yet these are not new jobs, but training opportunities. Moreover, the numbers reflect pledges during a five-year period, not something already achieved, as the president framed it. Unlike many of the president's statements, there are at least real numbers attached, but his claim is still a real stretch.

Trump may be a proud father, but he earns Three Pinocchios.

Three Pinocchios