Yahoo ran a piece pointing out that it didn't really make sense for Donald Trump to take credit for the jobs report released on Friday since the survey on which the report is based was taken in the middle of January, before he was in the White House. The piece concludes by telling readers:

"So while Trump can’t be blamed for disappointing data or take credit for a good report, next month is all his!"

While the first point is entirely correct, it doesn't really make sense to give a president credit or blame for what happens in the early months of their administration. The economy has a great deal of momentum, which means it will continue whatever path it is on for some time.

In the case of President Obama, the economy was tanking when he came into office, losing more than 700,000 jobs a month. While he did quickly push a modest stimulus package through Congress, it wasn't signed until the end of February and didn't really start to have an impact until April. Even at that point, Obama's program had to counteract an enormous amount of negative momentum in the economy.

In Trump's case, the economy is on a path of modest growth and relatively strong job creation. This is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, unless he does something to slow or speedup growth, or there is some extraordinary shock to the economy.

Anyhow, we are inevitably going to try to score the performance of a president and it is customary to treat the day they take office as the starting point for the scorecard. However, as a practical matter, this approach does not make a great deal of sense.

 

Thanks to Robert Salzberg for calling this piece to my attention.