Economy & Business

Look Who’s Benefitting Most from the Trump Boom

Employees and customers at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2014. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)
Employment data is showing positive trends for those demographic groups that are often on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder.

The stock market may be in a slump of late, but the real economy — jobs, wages, consumer spending, industrial production — keep steaming forward.

No one is more shocked by this Trump boom than his liberal critics, who now claim that Trump’s policies have only benefitted the millionaires and billionaires and the big corporations. Yet, the objective evidence has started to reveal in a persuasive way that just the opposite is true.

A recent Wall Street Journal economic analysis of current jobs reports found that worker wages were starting to rise above inflation and that the biggest percentage gains were showing up in the paychecks of the lowest income workers. In other words, income inequality with respect to take home pay was shrinking.

Now, the employment data is showing the same positive trends for those demographic groups that are often on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder: young people, those without high school degrees, Hispanics, and blacks. The Bureau of Labor statistics found that over Trump’s first two years in office, these groups experienced the largest declines in their group unemployment rates (as shown in the table below).

Unemployment Rate

On Record

Oct. 2018 Change Since Nov. 2016 Lowest Rate

Teenagers

11.9% -2.8%

May, 1953

Less Than High School Ed.

6.0% -1.8%

July, 2018

African Americans

6.2% -1.7%

May, 2018

Hispanics

4.4% -1.3%

 Oct., 2018

All Americans 3.7% -0.9%

Dec., 1969

(White House Council of Economic Advisers and Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Remarkable, too, about this chart is that every group that was least likely to vote for Trump has seen an abnormally large gain in jobs and wages. Our supposed racist president has delivered outsized economic gains for blacks and Hispanics — with both groups now experiencing the lowest unemployment rates in at least a half century. So much for Trump’s policies benefiting only white America. The rich are clearly not “the big winners” from Trump’s economic policies.

What makes these results all the more stunning is that back in 2014, I published an analysis in the Wall Street Journal examining which demographic groups had suffered the largest declines in economic status during the Obama “recovery.” According to the Census Bureau data, single women with and without children saw their incomes fall by roughly 5 percent. Those ages 25-34 experienced an income decline of 4.4 percent. Black heads of households saw their income tumble by 7.7 percent, while the income of Hispanic heads of households fell 5.6 percent. In other words, many of these groups experienced double the income fall than the average voter.

The poor and unskilled that Mr. Obama was supposed to lift out of poverty saw their incomes fall by 7.4 percent for those with less than a high school diploma and 8.2 percent for those with only a high school diploma. In dollar terms, between the time the Obama recovery began in June 2009 and until June 2014, median black household income fell by nearly $3,000, Hispanic households lost nearly $2,500, and female-headed households lost roughly $1,500. In 2015 and 2016, income gains were thankfully reversed for these demographic groups, but many still lost ground over eight years. The income gains under Mr. Obama were mostly concentrated in those Americans in the top 20 percent of income. This is why the income gap between rich and poor rose nearly every year under Obama.

Meanwhile, the gains to those at the bottom under Trump didn’t happen by accident but by design. Those of us who advised Donald Trump on his economic policies (including Larry Kudlow and Arthur Laffer) always believed that creating a tight labor market with more jobs than workers to fill them (right now that number has soared to seven million surplus jobs) would have to lead to higher wage gains as workers would have more bargaining power to command higher pay and benefits from their employers. That is what is happening now. Higher wages are now luring workers who sat out of the labor market in the Obama years, to reenter the workforce, as evidenced by the rise in labor-force participation.

My friend Anthony Scaramucci has written a new book about Trump called The Blue Collar President. It’s the right term to characterize this president. Trump’s policies are lifting the financial well-being of the middle class and the working classes the most. What grand irony that the gains to the non-rich that Obama promised a decade ago are now finally showing up in the paychecks of workers under Donald Trump. Just wait: Obama will try to take credit for that too.

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