WASHINGTON (AP) – The AP is fact-checking remarks from President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech. Here’s a look at some of the claims we’ve examined (quotations from the speech as delivered or as released by the White House before delivery):
TRUMP: “After years and years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages.”
THE FACTS: Actually, they are not rising any faster than they have before. Average hourly pay rose 2.5 percent in 2017, slightly slower than the 2.9 percent increase recorded in 2016.
Most economists say wages should increase at a faster rate as the unemployment rate drops. The unemployment rate stands at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent, but that has done little so far to spark rising wages.
The last time unemployment was this low, in the late 1990s, average hourly pay was rising at a 4 percent pace.
TRUMP: “The third pillar (of my immigration plan) ends the visa lottery – a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard to skill, merit or the safety of our people.”
THE FACTS: That’s a highly misleading characterization. The program is not nearly that random and it does address skills, merit and safety.
The diversity visa program awards up to 50,000 green cards a year to people from underrepresented countries, largely in Africa. It requires applicants to have completed a high school education or have at least two years of experience in the last five years in a selection of fields identified by the Labor Department.
Winners are then randomly selected by computer, from that pool of applicants who met the pre-conditions. Winners must submit to extensive background checks, just like any other immigrant.
TRUMP: “We have ended the war on beautiful clean coal.”
THE FACTS: Coal is not clean. According to the Energy Department, more than 83 percent of all major air pollutants – sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, toxic mercury and dangerous soot particles – from power plants are from coal, even though coal makes up only 43 percent of the power generation. Power plants are the No. 1 source of those pollutants.
Coal produces nearly twice as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide per energy created as natural gas, the department says.