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Spicer quotes Trump: Jobs reports 'may have been phony in the past, but it's very real now'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East MORE has a new outlook on the legitimacy of the government’s monthly jobs reports, White House press secretary Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerGuilfoyle says she'd be open to White House job if Trump asks Cramer's comments on Kavanaugh allegations under scrutiny in close N. Dakota race Spicer: Press have 'a personal animus' against Trump administration MORE said on Friday.

Asked about Trump's past dismissal of Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs numbers in the past in light of Friday's strong economic report, Spicer quoted the president:

“I talked to the president prior to this, and he said to quote him very clearly: 'They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.'"

Spicer and reporters present laughed, though it wasn't immediately clear whether Trump was joking.

The economy added 235,000 jobs in February, according to bureau statistics — a sizable gain that Trump has eagerly taken credit for.

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During his presidential campaign, Trump often slammed the government’s labor and employments statistics, calling monthly jobs reports “phony” and the unemployment rate “fiction.” He also frequently claimed that the unemployment rate was much higher than reported.

“The unemployment rate is probably 20 percent, but I will tell you, you have some great economists that will tell you it's at 30, 32,” he said in September 2015. “And the highest I've heard so far is 42 percent."

The growth in February is consistent with the upward trends that occurred under the Obama administration. The economy has expanded for 77 consecutive months.

Nevertheless, Trump’s promise to roll back government regulations has spurred economic enthusiasm.

The latest jobs report also gives the Federal Reserve a vote of confidence to move forward with its plan to raise interest rates next week.