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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Fact-check: Trump’s Spokane speech

During his speech Saturday at the Spokane Convention Center, Donald Trump threw out some numbers about Spokane’s economy, illegal immigration and how he’s polling. We crunched the data to see how accurate he was.

Claim: Spokane’s labor force today is 9,000 people smaller than it was when President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

Fact: The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the labor force as the total number of employed and unemployed people in a given area. Someone who is not working and not looking for a job would not be counted in the labor force.

In 2009, the average annual labor force in Spokane County was 240,002, according to the BLS. In 2015, it was down to 227,976, a difference of over 12,000, so Trump understated the decline. During the same period, Spokane County’s unemployment rate fell from 9.3 percent to 6.4 percent.

Claim: Spokane has lost one-third of its manufacturing jobs since Bill Clinton lobbied for China to join the World Trade Organization.

Fact: China joined the WTO on December 11, 2001, after Clinton had been out of office for nearly a year, though Clinton signed the bill making its inclusion possible. Spokane County had 17,740 manufacturing jobs in 2014, according to census estimates. We couldn’t find census data for 2001 online, but in 2000, the same data set showed 19,416 manufacturing jobs in the county. That’s a decrease of 8.6 percent since 2000.

It’s also worth nothing Spokane County had 16,976 manufacturing jobs in 2005, so the number of jobs has actually increased in the last decade.

Claim: Illegal immigrants cost Washington $2.7 billion per year.

Fact: This number is taken from a 2012 report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that’s strongly opposed to illegal immigration. Its estimates include costs associated with schooling U.S.-born children of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, as well as social assistance, including welfare and food stamps, paid to those children, who are U.S. citizens. Trump correctly quoted the cost estimate from the report.

Claim: About 10,000 people attended Trump’s rally in Spokane.

Fact: The official clicker at the Convention Center door had a count of 3,929 people around 1:15 p.m. Saturday, midway through Trump’s speech. While that number doesn’t include police officers, media and others who entered through back doors, the total tally inside was less than half his estimate.

Claim: Washington has seen an “influx” of Syrian refugees who have “no paperwork” and “no documentation.”

Fact: From October 2014 to September 2015, a total of 25 Syrian refugees settled in Washington, state officials said. The New York Times counted a total of 1,854 Syrians resettled in the U.S. from 2012 to 2015. Refugees must pass an interview, background checks by federal law enforcement agencies and a medical screening and submit to biometric data collection to be resettled in the U.S.

Claim: Trump referenced a “great poll” from Rasmussen Reports that showed he was leading Hillary Clinton in the race for the presidency.

Fact: Trump was likely referring to a telephone poll published May 2, which put the two candidates even at 38 percent if survey takers were given the option to stay home rather than vote in November. Trump earned an advantage of 41 percent to 39 percent over Clinton if that option were taken away, his first lead over Clinton since October, according to Rasmussen.

The Rasmussen poll is just one of many trying to handicap the presidential race. Almost all other recent national polls, tracked by the website Real Clear Politics, show Clinton with a lead over Trump. The largest margin in those polls is a CNN-commissioned survey that gives Clinton a 13-point lead over Trump.

Claim: Timber jobs in Washington have been cut in half since 1990.

Fact: The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks mining and logging jobs together in its monthly assessment of those industries. In 1990, the Bureau of Land Management reported that 12,600 people were employed in those industries, based on its average of monthly assessments that year. That number is not adjusted for seasonal changes.

In 2015, that total had fallen to 6,200 people, a little less than half of what it was in 1990.

Trump also said “no one uses more timber than me.” That claim could not be fact-checked based on available data.

Reporter Kip Hill contributed to this report.