WASHINGTON — With a Friday morning tweet spotlighting confidential job numbers, President Donald Trump again broke with longstanding protocol designed to prevent investors from getting an early indication of the latest round of monthly figures.
"Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning," Trump wrote on Twitter more than an hour before the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the U.S. added 223,000 jobs in May and that the unemployment rate for the month was 3.8 percent.
Outside of classified national security material, the monthly jobs numbers are typically among the government's most closely held figures.
Generally, federal officials who get them early are prohibited from sharing the information before it is publicly released and from commenting on it for an hour after that. And Labor Department reporters, who get the numbers a little early so that they can pre-write stories timed to the release of jobs numbers, are held in a "lock up" in which they can't communicate with the outside world.
But the president isn't constrained by the same rules, and he didn't release any actual data.
While this isn't the first time Trump has tweeted about the coming jobs numbers before their release — he did it in August — his critics were quick to point to ways in which a president's indiscretion could have real-world consequences.
"Trump gets the jobs numbers the night before their release," Chris Lu, a former deputy secretary of Labor in the Obama administration, wrote on Twitter. "If he’s tweeting about them before their release, it’s not far-fetched to imagine him telling an investor friend in advance. Yet more proof that he can’t be trusted with any sensitive information."
Justin Wolfers, an economics professor at the University of Michigan, said Trump had now set an expectation that could cause market swings in the future.
The May report shows the best job growth in three months and one of the better months of Trump's presidency. The high mark was 324,000 in February and the lowest growth was 14,000 in September. At the same point in his presidency — May 2010 — President Barack Obama saw the economy add 522,000 jobs, the highest figure in his two terms.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said trump's Tweet was appropriate because "he didn't put the numbers out."