2018, the year of the worker Some 4 mil­lion em­ploy­ees got bonuses due to the Trump tax cut

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Stephen Moore

If 2017 was the year of the in­vestor with stock mar­ket gains of more than 25 per­cent dur­ing Pres­i­dent Trump’s first year in of­fice, 2018 was un­doubt­edly the year of the Amer­i­can worker. These past 12 months have slammed Wall Street hard with half of 2017’s stock block­buster gains sur­ren­dered. But for now pros­per­ity has ro­tated to Main Street USA, where things have rarely been bet­ter than in 2018.

The bears on Wall Street of the last few weeks have dom­i­nated the head­lines, but those losses have ob­scured the steady bullish gains for work­ers. Not in the last 50 years has the jobs mar­ket been as strong as it is to­day.

Start with the fact that at 3.8 per­cent the un­em­ploy­ment rate is match­ing its low point of the last half-cen­tury. Al­most half of the states in the union now have their low­est un­em­ploy­ment rates ever recorded by the La­bor De­part­ment. The la­bor mar­ket is so at­trac­tive for work­ers to­day that Amer­ica is lit­er­ally run­ning out of qual­i­fied work­ers to fill all the jobs.

The lat­est jobs re­port spot­lights 7 mil­lion more job post­ings than work­ers avail­able to fill them. That’s a big­ger num­ber than the en­tire pop­u­la­tion of In­di­ana. An all-time high 130 mil­lion Amer­i­cans now have a job.

The black and His­panic un­em­ploy­ment rates in Oc­to­ber were lower in 2018 than they have been at any time since the day Neil Arm­strong walked on the moon.

This su­per­tight la­bor mar­ket gives work­ers more bar­gain­ing power with their em­ploy­ers. More and more Amer­i­cans are de­mand­ing wage hikes from their em­ploy­ers and mil­lions got those de­served raises. Pay gains in real terms this year are now es­ti­mated at 3 per­cent — one of the big­gest in­creases in two decades. And don’t be­lieve the Trump-haters who say that only the rich ben­e­fited. The Wall Street Jour­nal re­ported last month that the low­est-paid Amer­i­cans got the big­gest gains. Who needs the min­i­mum wage, when we have a boom­ing econ­omy with a tide that lifts all boats.

In 2018 some 4 mil­lion work­ers got pay bonuses from em­ploy­ers thanks to the Trump tax cut. Com­pa­nies from Dis­ney, to Wal­mart, to Fed Ex to Ama­zon handed out bonus checks and ben­e­fit boosts typ­i­cally rang­ing from $1,000 to $3,000. Sorry, Nancy Pelosi, not too many work­ers think a check of $2,500 is “crumbs.”

On top of these bonuses, my col­leagues at the Her­itage Foun­da­tion re­port that the typ­i­cal mid­dle-class fam­ily re­ceived more than a $2,000 tax cut this year thanks to the Trump tax plan.

But more than any cat­a­log of sta­tis­tics, it may be the real-life news sto­ries over the last year that help us ap­pre­ci­ate the great Amer­i­can em­ploy­ment surge. CNBC re­ports that hir­ing of ex-con­victs is ris­ing rapidly as em­ploy­ers search for ready and able work­ers. In some in­stances, em­ploy­ers are so hun­gry for la­bor that they wait out­side the pris­ons for the in­mates to be re­leased so they can hire them.

Or there is the story of truck­ers in the oil patch in Texas get­ting $50,000 and even $100,000 sign­ing bonuses — as if they were su­per­star pro­fes­sional ath­letes.

In other ar­eas of the coun­try, man­u­fac­tur­ers are now ad­ver­tis­ing on bill­boards that prospec­tive job ap­pli­cants don’t have to pass a drug test to be con­sid­ered. Even 94 per­cent of high school dropouts who want a job, have one.

The bot­tom line is this: There has never been in most of our en­tire life­times a bet­ter time to be look­ing for a job than to­day.

Un­em­ploy­ment is nonex­is­tent in al­most all parts of the coun­try. Wages are ris­ing for the first time in two decades. Amer­i­cans are again the most pro­duc­tive and among the high­est-paid work­ers in the world. An­thony Scara­mucci, a for­mer Trump ad­viser, ti­tles his new book: “The Blue Col­lar Pres­i­dent.” That is ex­actly what Mr. Trump is: The work­ing man and woman’s CEO.

The lat­est jobs re­port spot­lights 7 mil­lion more job post­ings than work­ers avail­able to fill them. That’s a big­ger num­ber than the en­tire pop­u­la­tion of In­di­ana. An all-time high 130 mil­lion Amer­i­cans now have a job.

Stephen Moore, a colum­nist for The Wash­ing­ton Times, is a se­nior fel­low at the Her­itage Foun­da­tion. His new book with Arthur Laf­fer is: “Trumpo­nomics: In­side the Amer­ica First Plan to Re­vive the Econ­omy.”

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY

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