Is President Trump fulfilling candidate Trump’s promises?
You can make a case that he is, based on some surprising and widely unexpected economic developments. Vice President Mike Pence, writing in The Des Moines Register, put it succinctly: “The evidence is clear: America is back.” He adds, “It’s no accident.”
Pence and other Trump enthusiasts can point to increasing macroeconomic growth. Growth rose 4.1 percent in the second quarter and is up more than 3 percent for the year. Unemployment was down to 3.9 percent in July. The S&P 500 stock index is up 6 percent since the Trump presidency, while the rest of the world’s stock markets are down 6 percent. These are numbers any recent administration would boast about.
More notable are positive trends among subgroups that weren’t doing so well before Trump took office. Former Obama administration chief economic adviser Jason Furman, writing for Vox, notes that in the past three years “recent wage growth . . . at the low end of the wage scale” is stronger than growth among the higher-paid.
Similarly, Bloomberg columnist and portfolio manager Conor Sen makes the point that job growth has been greatest among “goods-producing workers and the least-educated workers.”
Both Furman and Sen contrast current trends with those in the 1998-2001 period of torrid economic growth, when income gains were concentrated at the top of the economic spectrum and employment gains were concentrated in office jobs and “meds and eds” — the government-financed or heavily regulated health care and education sectors.
So maybe growing income inequality isn’t inevitable after all. And maybe the economic prospects of groups clustered at the low end of the economic scale are not as dire as has long been assumed.
The unemployment rate among young millennials — those over 25 — is only 5.1 percent, according to Sen, the lowest since the government began measuring this in 1994. So much for mom’s basement sofa. Black unemployment was down to 5.9 percent in May, and Hispanic unemployment was down to 4.6 percent in June, both the lowest number since the early 1970s, when government began tracking them.