03.12.2019 0

The white, non-Hispanic working age population shrank slightly in 2018 but is still creating more jobs in the Trump economy

By Robert Romano

One America News Network’s Ryan Girdusky made a big splash on March 8 noting a Quinnipiac poll out of the state of Texas pitting President Donald Trump against Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) in which Trump only garners 70 percent of the white, no-college-degree vote, compared to 2016 when CNN said he got 76 percent in Texas.

The real split in the poll is among independents. Trump does even better among Republicans than he did in 2016. Independents, however, break against Trump in the poll when he is paired against Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. The President fares better against Harris. It is fair to say that Trump’s numbers among independents are extremely lackluster, particularly for Texas.

That said, head-to-head match-ups 22 months out from an election are extremely difficult to gauge and the current polling may just be serving as a proxy for job approval. Recall, Trump got elected with a favorable rating of only about 40 percent and unfavorable of almost 60 percent. It is also worth noting at this point in both the Reagan and Obama presidencies, both were upside down on job approval. Trump under-polled what his actual number was in 2016, and that may very well be what’s happening here.

That said, Girdusky went on to point to the latest jobs numbers and how they break down among native-born men in particular, saying that President Donald Trump could be in trouble in 2020 because the economy is underperforming for his base, which consists of white males. Girdusky noted that only 62,000 more native-born males had found jobs in the past 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is true, however, there are a few items worth considering.

As Girdusky noted in his interview with Breitbart News Tonight on March 8 with co-hosts Rebecca Mansour and Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning, the jobs numbers for the native-born population include all races. Yet, the white, non-Hispanic males that make up a good segment of the Trump base only constitute 63.2 percent of the overall male population, and about 66 percent of the native-born male population and 84 percent of whites counted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

So, when you include, say, the number of black males who said they had jobs, that was actually down slightly the last 12 months by about 100,000, a 1 percent drop, even as the population of black males increased by 146,000 the past 12 months and even as black unemployment overall is at historic lows on the strength of black women entering the labor force and finding jobs.

Black, female unemployment is at 6.1 percent, the lowest in American history, and lower than the 7.9 percent measured among black males.

Therefore, the sudden increase in black, male unemployment the past few months looms as one of the major factors in the slower growth of the native-born males with jobs year over year.

Next, another major factor is that the white, non-Hispanic population aged 16 and over including males did not grow at all in the past 12 months — in fact it was down 8,000 among males and 28,000 among females — but still the number of white, non-Hispanic males with jobs increased by 24,000.

And that does not even take into account the aging demographic involved here. Unfortunately, this is where we reach the limits of the data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, because you cannot see white, non-Hispanics broken down by age, so it is not possible to segment out those 65-years-old and older so that we can see how 16-to-64-year-old working age adults performed.

But we can nonetheless surmise that many working age white, non-Hispanics are actually coming off the sidelines as older Baby Boomer men retire. While labor participation among white, non-Hispanics decreased from 68 percent to 67.7 percent from Feb. 2018 to Feb. 2019, as noted above the population decreased by 8,000 while the number with jobs increased by 24,000, as a result, the employment-population ratio increased slightly from 65.2 percent to 65.3 percent.

When you include Hispanics in the mix, and exclude those over the age of 65, as a proxy for the same above, you can see among white males aged 16-to-64 that even though the population decreased by 271,000 and the labor force decreased by 296,000, the number of 16-to-64-year-old white males with jobs actually increased by 69,000. The employment-population ratio increased from 77.2 percent to 77.6 percent. Same pattern as above: labor participation decreased a hair, but the number of jobs still increased. That’s quite impressive considering the headwinds demographically.

The unemployment rate among white, non-Hispanic males is 3.9 percent. It doesn’t get much lower than that. Put another way, 96.1 percent of those who want jobs, have jobs in that demographic.

In fact, you have 602,000 more white males aged 16-to-64 in the civilian labor force who have come off the sidelines — that is, they are working or looking for work — than you would have had the labor participation rate remained at the 79.99 percent among white males it was in Jan. 2017.  Labor participation is now up to 80.7 percent among white males. Again, that’s with a declining population among this demographic. It’s a really good number.

It also tells you that there’s not much more room for growth there. We’re already at peak white male employment among working age adults.

What’s different with the current Trump economy is how the current growth is benefiting every single demographic. 4.8 million new jobs have been created since Jan. 2017. 2.7 million have gone to females and 2.1 million to males.

The reason for the disproportionate growth there is that is where there is a lot of room for growth on the female side of the equation. The difference in the overall employment-population ratio between men and women is 66.5 percent versus 55.4 percent, respectively. Among 16-to-64-year-old white females, including Hispanics — again the Bureau does not break the non-Hispanic data down by age — labor participation has increased from 67.6 percent to 69 percent. The 16-to-64-year-old white female population has decreased by 297,000, but the labor force — those working or looking for work — increased by 163,000, and those with jobs increased by 353,000.

That accounts for 1.1 million white females coming off the sidelines into the labor force than would have had labor participation remained the same as it was in Jan. 2017.

That is why among white, female non-Hispanics, 240,000 new jobs were created the past 12 months even as the population decreased by 28,000.

Clearly, there is a lot going on in the numbers. It is true, as Girdusky notes, that among the foreign-born population in the U.S., 723,000 jobs were created even as the population only increased 500,000, and that among native-born males, only 62,000 jobs were created.

But the reasons are largely because 1) the working age white, non-Hispanic population did not grow at all (in fact it shrank the last 12 months); 2) the number of black males working dropped by 100,000; and 3) there’s not much more room for jobs growth among working age white, non-Hispanic males, whereas there is a lot of room for growth among females. On the third point, I’ll add the caveat that if any economy can find a way to increase the labor participation numbers for men even higher, it’s the Trump economy.

One other important caveat to note is that we’re dealing entirely with seasonally non-adjusted numbers throughout this entire dataset. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide seasonally adjusted data for the native-born and foreign-born populations. Native-born male employment dips every winter and peaks every summer like clockwork. So, for example if you’re a roofer, you’re not reshingling that many roofs in January when there’s 6 inches of snow on the rooftops in the northern U.S.

Don’t believe it? Look at the number of native-born males working in Jan. 2019 at 66.078 million and then Feb. 2019 at 66.309 million. 231,000 jobs were “created” in a month! Wow! Oh wait, no, the snows started melting and seasonal laborers got the call. It won’t take much for the native-born population to surpass its 2018 highs this summer, driving labor participation and employment-population ratios even higher than they already are.

The Bureau, with good reason, seasonally adjusts the overall jobs numbers every month to take into account these sorts of seasonal fluctuations.

The truth is, it’s a lot easier to show job growth when you actually have a growing population to count, and there’s room for growth. So, particularly with females entering the labor force, that is certainly the case. That is going to be where you see a lot of the current economic growth. Put another way, if it weren’t for strong jobs growth among females and the foreign-born population, the economy would not be growing much at all right now. That is not to understate the importance of employment among the native-born population, particularly males who work at higher rates, but they’re already at peak employment for the most part. With the population of white men frozen at the moment, boosting jobs among males is not where you’re going to get much of your growth unless we’re suggesting that senior citizens need to work more.

Even with all the jobs growth noted above, there are still 7.3 million job openings. The economy could expand even faster if those could be filled. There does appear to be some spare capacity among 16-to-64-year-olds, with 53.9 million not in the labor force. But it’s no mystery why you’re seeing stronger job growth among females. 60.7 percent of those not in the labor force are women. If you break it down to whites, the number drops to 39.4 million, with 61.7 percent being female.

Another caveat with those not in the labor force: 17.4 million are aged 16-24, 12.3 million of which are white. That roughly splits between males and females. That’s a number that also behaves seasonally. It will drop dramatically in the summer as younger Americans take summer jobs. When you exclude this group, among 25-to-64-year-olds not in the labor force, 66 percent are female. When you look at white 25-to-64-year-olds, the number jumps to 67.1 percent female.

All that stated, if these are the numbers in 2020, that will mean the economy remained strong throughout 2019, and President Trump might not have as much trouble after all for his reelection bid. Long-term, the lack of population growth among white non-Hispanics could pose problems for the GOP’s electoral prospects, but right now seeing economic and job growth for most Americans speaks to the strength of the U.S. economy and could portend well for President Trump in 2020.

Right now, the President has a really good story to tell about the economy. Obviously, a lot can change between now and 2020, but if the question is on jobs, right now, the numbers are strong, and whatever problems that might emerge appear to be downstream. They can shift for certain, but the point is they haven’t shifted yet and in some cases appear to still be strengthening even this late in the business cycle.

Note that Trump’s favorable ratings are better now than they were all throughout 2016 prior to the election and that he fared better in the election than his poll numbers suggested.

Right now, the jobs numbers are rock-solid, especially among Trump’s white, non-Hispanic male base — and also among almost every other demographic. If that’s the question, there is no question, Trump has delivered the best jobs market in a generation.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

Updated to include data on 25-to-64-year-olds.

Correction: White non-Hispanics make up 66 percent of the native-born population and 84 percent of whites counted by the Census Bureau: https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/popproj/tables/2017/2017-summary-tables/np2017-t11.xlsx

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