Tech jobs: What has the Trump effect really been?

Donald Trump wants to be remembered as the “jobs” president. Just read the transcript of his post-Charlottesville press conference. Controversially, he failed to treat the national tragedy with the seriousness it deserved, and he failed to condemn the “alt-right” neo Nazis in the way he should have. Instead, he tried to steer the topic of conversation towards jobs.

“I’ve created over a million jobs,” he boasted. “What people want now, they want jobs.” When asked what needs to be done to overcome the racial tensions in America, Trump’s response: “Well I really think jobs can have a big impact.”

He’s very eager to talk about jobs, creating jobs, and bringing jobs back to the USA, but how much has he really done? Though his main focus is on jobs in manufacturing, Trump knows the future is with the tech sector. As we’ll see, he’s taken credit for creating jobs at telecommunications firms, internet providers, software and hardware developers. But has he really been that successful?

Trump takes credit for more jobs than he creates

 Aside from the frequent claims of creating “millions” or at least “tens of thousands” of new jobs, Trump has made several public announcements about specific numbers of jobs he’s created at different major companies. The thing is, almost every time he does this, he is either lying or stretching the truth.

 In March 2017, Trump invited the CEO of cable company Charter Communications to the Oval Office, where he announced that Charter would invest $25 billion in the US economy and hire 20,000 American workers. These plans had already been in the works since May 2016, a whole six months before Trump was sworn in.

One month earlier, Trump stood beside the CEO of Intel as he announced the opening of a new company factory in Arizona, which would create a total of 13,000 jobs. Trump took credit for this, and Intel’s CEO seemed happy for him to do so. However, Intel had already announced this factory in 2011 under the Obama administration. This clearly throws Trump’s role in the proceedings into question.

There are, however, tech companies which have been hiring more workers recently, which Trump has not claimed direct credit for. Amazon has launched a “hiring spree” to employ 50,000 workers in the US. This could have been inspired by Trump’s imperative that US companies “hire American.”

Similarly, international software giant SAP pledged in January to create 10,000 US jobs. SAP’s announcement came with a stipulation, though—one that rules out Trumpian inspiration. The jobs, according to CEO Bill McDermott, will only be created if Trump does not implement tariff policies. So far, he hasn’t, so the job creation can go ahead as planned. This is good news for Trump, as the broader SAP industry is so well-known for its Eurocentrism that a top SAP job tip is to become fluent in non-English languages.

Trump’s threatened tariffs, though, are not the main point of objection for many in the tech industry. It is the infamous “travel ban” that has really angered the tech community, and which may well have hindered job creation rather than helped it.

Trump’s travel ban has angered tech firms

Eight months into his presidency, the Muslim travel ban is still Trump’s signature policy. The policy was only actually in place for a brief period before it was struck down by the supreme court, but it has been reinstated in a new form. On a personal level, the ban has had a heavy human cost, tearing many families apart. But it may have an economic impact in the tech sector too.

When the ban was reinstated in April, 162 tech companies including Google, Facebook, Uber and Tesla filed a 67-page amicus curiae legal document against the ban, challenging its legality and pointing out that it goes against America’s identity as “a nation of immigrants.” The tech firms were angry out of moral principle, but they were also angry out of practicality.

This July, a report from Quartz found that “more Silicon Valley tech workers were born outside the US than in it.” This finding reveals the American tech industry’s clear preference for finding and hiring the best talent from around the world. The tech firms’ joint court document itself said the travel ban, “hinders the ability of American companies to attract talented employees,” and “gives global enterprises a new, significant incentive to build operations—and hire new employees—outside the United States.”

Based on this statement, if the travel ban stays in place, perhaps the America First president could end up creating more jobs, but those jobs will be outside the US, not in it. Unless Trump sees eye to eye with Silicon Valley on immigration, Trump may well be remembered as the jobs president, but not in the way he wants to be.

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