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

President TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal MORE has a new outlook on the legitimacy of the government’s monthly jobs reports, White House press secretary Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerDeSantis to hold Newsmax town hall Biden's poor TV ratings against Trump is exactly what this administration wants Overnight Health Care: CDC director calls on Michigan to 'close things down' amid surge in cases | Regeneron says antibody therapy prevents COVID-19 infections 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.