Last January, President Trump attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and gave a speech previewing his pitch for reelection this fall. Speaking to the assembled crowd of global elites, Trump made the highly dubious claim that the economy he had inherited from President Obama was in a “dismal state,” despite the fact that the U.S. had produced 76 straight months of job growth when Trump was sworn in. And with signature bombast, the President played his, well, Trump card. The U.S., he boasted, was “in the midst of an economic boom the likes of which the world has never seen before.”
It was debatable assertion, given that economic growth had averaged a solid-but-not-scintillating 2.5% over Trump’s first three years in office. But the stock market was hitting record highs, and unemployment was at a historic low of 3.6%. Campaigning on his economic expertise seemed like a no-brainer for Trump.
Then came COVID-19.
Just weeks after Trump’s address in Davos, the novel coronavirus was declared to be a global pandemic. And while the U.S. scrambled to respond to a spiraling health crisis, the economy went into free fall. Some 22 million jobs were lost in the U.S. in March and April as businesses went into shutdown, and the unemployment rate spiked to 14.7%—the worst since the Great Depression.
More than half of those jobs have been recovered in the ensuing months. But the pace of the rebound has been slowing. After adding 1.8 million jobs in July and another 1.5 million in August, for instance, the U.S. created just 661,000 jobs in September. Heading into October, the unemployment rate was 7.9%.
Overall, the U.S. has some 3.9 million fewer jobs than when Trump took office. And new waves of layoffs could be coming as, say, cash-strapped local and state governments begin to wrestle with growing budget deficits.
But none of that has stopped Trump from attempting to sell voters on his economic prowess. In September, the Trump campaign began running a TV ad in battleground states that cast the President as the obvious choice in economic matters compared with his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. “Donald Trump is the jobs President,” intones the narrator. “He helped create millions of jobs.” Never mind the net loss.
Given a second term, would Trump fulfill his promise to be the “jobs President”? Moody’s Analytics, for one, predicts that Biden’s policies would produce 7.4 million more jobs than Trump’s over the next four years.
To get a clearer view of Trump’s economic résumé, we examined his administration’s record in six charts, with a focus on jobs. It’s a mixed picture. His first three years in office generated solid growth, if not quite the historically great performance that he claims. The pandemic has obliterated those gains and left the nation reeling. That doesn’t give Trump a pass. The administration’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis must be factored into any assessment of the Trump Economy. Just how much credit or blame Trump deserves is for voters to decide.
A version of this article appears in the November 2020 issue of Fortune with the headline, “How Trump measures up on jobs.”