President Joe Biden is getting slapped with “four Pinocchios” after he “stumbled” by repeatedly citing a “wildly exaggerated” number estimating the number of construction jobs that would be created over the next six years.
On Aug. 9, the president signed the Chips Act and declared, “There’s an analysis that says investment in the Chips and Science Act will create 1 million — more than 1 million construction jobs alone over the next six years building semiconductor factories in America.”
And two days later, he tweeted, “Investments in the CHIPS and Science Law will create more than 1 million construction jobs alone over the next 6 years building semiconductor factories in America.”
Investments in the CHIPS and Science Law will create more than 1 million construction jobs alone over the next 6 years building semiconductor factories in America.
— President Biden (@POTUS) August 11, 2022
That claim piqued the interest of Glen Kessler, The Washington Post’s fact-checker, who looked into the number.
“We’ve learned from experience that when a president utters a big job-creation number, it’s ripe for fact-checking. So we were curious to learn how the president’s job prediction for the Chips and Science Act — which will provide nearly $53 billion for U.S. semiconductor research, development, manufacturing and workforce development — was developed,” he wrote in an article published Thursday.
Kessler noted that Biden “mentioned an ‘analysis’ as the source for the claim that 1 million construction jobs would be created.”
However, he pointed out that the figure did not appear on the White House “fact sheet” about the bill.
“It turns out this number is wildly exaggerated,” he wrote.
The fact-checker wrote that the “first tip-off” was just the size of the number and that it was around 1 million jobs.
“The second tip-off is that Biden was specific — 1 million construction jobs in six years. Before the pandemic tanked jobs, the U.S. economy took four years to add 1 million construction jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data — from all industries, not just the semiconductor business,” he added.
And another “tip-off” Kessler notes is that the estimate comes from a report penned by an “industry advocate,” and it would “be unusual for any trade group to issue a report that did not put the best gloss on the industry’s economic contributions.”
However, he explained the fact-checking team was unable to find a reference to the 1 million construction jobs. Rather, the report estimated that the bill would add “an average of 185,000 temporary jobs annually throughout the U.S. economy from 2021 to 2026.”
And it did not specify that the jobs would be construction jobs. Even a spokesperson for the organization told the Post, “The statement about 1 million construction jobs is not accurate.”
Kessler noted that there is “often a temptation for a politician to cite the highest possible job creation for a new policy.”
“But the president stumbled badly here. In public remarks, and then in a tweet, he claimed 1 million construction jobs would be created because of the Chips Act,” he continued. “The real number was just 6,200, according to the industry-commissioned report cited as the source. If you wanted to be generous, you could say the report said 56,000 jobs would be supported by construction. If you wanted to be very generous, you could say 1 million jobs would be supported in the ‘construction phase’ of the law.”
“But that would be overly generous, given that the White House amplified Biden’s statement in a tweet; it was not a simple misspeak,” he added.
Finally, Kessler argued there is “no reason to get the number so wrong — twice,” and the tweet had not been deleted by the time the article was published, nor had the transcript been corrected.
As a result, the Post slapped Biden with “four Pinocchios.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.