08.19.2019 0

Up or down, President Trump owns the economy—and he has a lot to be proud of

By Robert Romano

Right at the outset, let me say, you can’t talk down the economy. It’s either doing well, or it’s not, and by every measure, the Trump economy is doing just fine.

Certainly, the numbers are better than in 2012 when former President Barack Obama was facing reelection.

2018 finished out the year at 2.93 percent growth in the Gross Domestic Product, the strongest showing since 2005, edging out 2015’s 2.91 percent by a nose. The first two quarters of 2019 have delivered mixed results of 3.1 percent and 2.1 percent annualized, respectively.

Not terrible, and certainly no worse than any year put up by Obama, who in 2012 got reelected with just 2.2 percent growth.

Unemployment at 3.7 percent is still at its lowest point in 50 years since 1969, that is, other than the three other times we’ve hit that level in 2018 and 2019.

At this point in the Obama presidency, unemployment was 9.0 percent. Ultimately, Obama got reelected with 7.8 percent unemployment in the final reading before the 2012 election.

Almost 5.2 million jobs have been created since Jan. 2017 when President Donald Trump took office in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ household survey.

That blows the Obama out of the water. At this point in his first term, the Obama economy had not produced a single job. To be fair, it was still shedding jobs from the recession as he came into office.

When you consider labor participation among working aged adults 16-to-64-years-old, we’ve seen marked improvement during the Trump administration after two decades of decline. Labor participation among that demographic was almost 77.4 percent in 1997. And then it began a steady decline through the 2000s and the 2010s before it finally bottomed in 2015 at 72.7 percent, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics.

But now, through 2018, labor participation among working age adults is once again rising, with 2.2 million more 16-64-year-olds in the labor force, and labor participation rising to 73.6 percent.

Wages are accelerating during the Trump administration, coming in at 2.7 percent growth in the second quarter and averaging 2.66 percent since the beginning of 2017.

Wages averaged 1.97 percent growth per quarter during the Obama administration.

These are all major improvements. The reason Obama got reelected in 2012, when considering the economy, was because the numbers, after bottoming at the end of 2009, were all moving in the right direction by the time he was nearing the end of his first term.

Of course, what goes up must eventually come down. It’s called the business cycle for a reason, and now some are starting to worry that we’re nearing the end of that cycle with certain recession signals begin to go off. They’re not wrong, but that’s still speculative. Those making a prediction there might be a downturn before Nov. 2020 will either be right or wrong. Trump owns the economy either way. That’s just the way voters treat incumbents in office. So, own it, Mr. President. You have a lot to be proud of.

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

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