In his first address to the US Congress, President Donald Trump hailed General Motors Co, Harley-Davidson Inc, Intel Corp and seven other companies as innovators and job creators, predicting they would be among those producing “tens of thousands of new American jobs” and investing “billions and billions of dollars.”
Nearly three years later, with unemployment at the lowest in half a century, that first presidential portfolio has stumbled to fulfill that forecast. While Trump’s 10 companies have spent billions on new factories and upgrades, they failed to keep pace with new hires, according to a Reuters analysis of the group’s capital expenditures and headcount since 2017.
Collective employment at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Ford Motor Co, GM, Harley, Intel, Lockheed Martin Corp, Sprint Corp, Walmart Inc and small biotech Amicus Therapeutics has remained flat at about 2 million workers, the analysis shows. In the same period, total US employment has risen by 4.5 percent.
Wall Street has not smiled extensively on Trump’s selected companies either.
Most of the companies’ total shareholder return has trailed the S&P 500’s 47 percent advance and sector benchmarks since Trump’s February 2017 speech. Only four of the 10 have outperformed the broad benchmark while five have lagged the wider market by 35 points or more, as of Jan. 28.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere declined to comment about the individual companies, but noted more Americans are coming off the sidelines and finding work, and US wages and consumer confidence are rising.
“Despite headwinds from severe monetary tightening and a global recession, President Trump’s agenda of fair and reciprocal trade, lower taxes and deregulation has created the strongest economy we’ve ever seen,” he added.
Still, struggles within the Trump portfolio underscore how the president’s economic and immigration policies have produced uneven results as he seeks another term in the White House.
Since he took office, only Fiat Chrysler and defense contractor Lockheed Martin have added a meaningful number of net new workers.
Lockheed’s US headcount is up about 15 percent. Fiat’s employment is up about 11 percent, with some gains coming from broader North American operations. The net gain of jobs at the two companies is about 22,800 since the end of 2016, according to company disclosures.
“What a great brand Jeep is,” Trump said in a shoutout to Fiat Chrysler’s hot-selling vehicle, before signing a tariff agreement with China.
By contrast, the combined overall US headcount at Ford and GM has declined by about 10,000, or 5 percent to 184,000, despite investing billions of dollars in their automotive plants.