Trump’s pres­i­dency, so far, by the num­bers

Some records set, but lots of room to im­prove

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - NEWS - Brooks Jack­son

In the time Don­ald Trump has been in the White House:

❚ The job­less rate dropped to the low­est in nearly half a cen­tury, and the num­ber of un­filled job open­ings hit a record high.

❚ Eco­nomic growth spurted to a 4.2 per­cent an­nual rate in the most re­cent quar­ter.

❚ Me­dian house­hold in­come rose to the high­est level ever recorded in 2017. Poverty de­clined.

❚ The growth of fed­eral reg­u­la­tions slowed and has lately re­versed.

❚ Crime rates de­clined. The num­ber of homi­cides went down 0.7 per­cent last year af­ter ris­ing for the pre­vi­ous two years.

❚ Car­bon emis­sions rose. Coal min­ing jobs went up a bit.

❚ Cor­po­rate prof­its, stock prices and home val­ues set record highs.

❚ The trade deficit grew larger.

❚ The fed­eral debt in­creased by nearly $1.4 tril­lion, more than 9 per­cent. Yearly deficits in­creased.

❚ The U.S. im­age abroad plunged. We make no judg­ment as to how much credit or blame any pres­i­dent de­serves for things that hap­pen dur­ing his time in of­fice. Opin­ions dif­fer on that.

Jobs and un­em­ploy­ment

Job growth slowed a bit un­der Trump, but un­em­ploy­ment dropped to the low­est point in nearly half a cen­tury.

❚ Em­ploy­ment: To­tal non­farm em­ploy­ment grew by 3.8 mil­lion dur­ing the pres­i­dent’s first 20 months in of­fice, ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent fig­ures avail­able from the Bureau of La­bor Statistics.

That con­tin­ued an un­bro­ken chain of monthly gains in to­tal em­ploy­ment that started nearly eight years ear­lier.

The av­er­age monthly gain un­der Trump is 190,000 jobs, 12 per­cent be­low the av­er­age monthly gain of 217,000 dur­ing Obama’s sec­ond term.

Trump will have to pick up the pace to ful­fill his cam­paign boast that he will be “the great­est jobs pres­i­dent that God ever cre­ated.”

❚ Un­em­ploy­ment: One rea­son for the slow­down in job growth: fewer job-seek­ers. The un­em­ploy­ment rate – which was well be­low the his­tor­i­cal norm when Trump took of­fice – has con­tin­ued to fall.

The rate was 4.8 per­cent when he was sworn in and fell to 3.7 per­cent in Septem­ber. The last time it was that low was Oc­to­ber 1969.

❚ Job open­ings: An­other rea­son em­ploy­ment growth has slowed is a wors­en­ing short­age of qual­i­fied work­ers. The num­ber of un­filled job open­ings hit a new record of more than 6.9 mil­lion as of the last busi­ness day in July – the most in the 18 years the Bureau of La­bor Statistics has been track­ing them.

That’s a gain of nearly 1.5 mil­lion un­filled job open­ings – or 27.5 per­cent – since Trump took of­fice.

❚ La­bor force par­tic­i­pa­tion: De­spite the abun­dance of jobs, the la­bor force par­tic­i­pa­tion rate – which went down 2.8 per­cent­age points un­der Obama – has slipped a bit more un­der Trump.

Repub­li­cans of­ten crit­i­cized Obama for the de­cline dur­ing his time, even though it was due mostly to baby boomers reach­ing re­tire­ment age and other de­mo­graphic fac­tors be­yond the con­trol of any pres­i­dent.

Since Trump took of­fice, the rate has fluc­tu­ated in a nar­row range. It was 62.7 per­cent in Au­gust, 0.2 per­cent­age points be­low where it was the month Trump took of­fice.

❚ Man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs: Those in­creased un­der Trump, even faster than to­tal em­ploy­ment.

The num­ber rose by 378,000 be­tween Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion and Septem­ber. That fol­lowed a net de­crease of 192,000 un­der Obama.

The in­crease un­der Trump amounts to 3.1 per­cent, com­pared with the 2.6 per­cent in­crease in over­all em­ploy­ment. The num­ber of man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs is still nearly 1 mil­lion be­low where it was in De­cem­ber 2007, at the start of the Great Re­ces­sion.

Eco­nomic growth

The econ­omy is grow­ing faster un­der Trump – spurt­ing to a yearly rate of 4.2 per­cent in the sec­ond quar­ter of 2018, the most re­cent of­fi­cial es­ti­mate.

That’s up from the 2.2 per­cent in­crease dur­ing his first year, fol­lowed by a 2.2 per­cent yearly rate in the first quar­ter of 2018, ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent es­ti­mate of the Bureau of Eco­nomic Anal­y­sis. That’s the “real” rate of growth in gross do­mes­tic prod­uct af­ter ac­count­ing for price in­fla­tion.

The 4.2 per­cent rate is just within the 4 to 6 per­cent rate Trump promised re­peat­edly, both when he was a can­di­date and also as pres­i­dent.

Most econ­o­mists be­lieve the cur­rent growth spurt is tem­po­rary. The non­par­ti­san Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice is­sued an up­dated eco­nomic fore­cast Aug. 13 pro­ject­ing real GDP to grow 3.1 per­cent this year and 2.4 per­cent in 2019. That’s in line with the most re­cent me­dian fore­cast of the Fed­eral Re­serve Board mem­bers and Fed­eral Re­serve Bank pres­i­dents (is­sued Sept. 26), which is for 3.1 per­cent growth in 2018, 2.5 per­cent in 2019 and 2.0 per­cent in 2020.

In­come and poverty

❚ House­hold in­come: House­hold in­come hit an­other record dur­ing Trump’s first year – but it comes with an as­ter­isk.

The Cen­sus Bureau’s mea­sure of me­dian house­hold in­come reached $61,372 in 2017. Af­ter ad­just­ing for in­fla­tion, that was an in­crease of $1,063 from the pre­vi­ous record level reached in Obama’s fi­nal year, when the me­dian in­come fi­nally reached and ex­ceeded a level last seen in 1999.

In per­cent­age terms, the in­crease in 2017 was 1.8 per­cent, fol­low­ing a 3.1 per­cent in­crease in 2016.

How­ever, a se­nior cen­sus of­fi­cial cau­tioned that the lat­est “records” in 2016 and 2017 are due in part to a change in the sur­vey ques­tions in 2014. Start­ing then, the an­nual sur­vey has picked up some sources of in­come that were pre­vi­ously missed. Tak­ing this into ac­count, Jonathan L. Roth­baum, chief of the In­come Statistics Branch, said the 2017 me­dian in­come would be in a “sta­tis­ti­cal tie” with in­comes mea­sured in 2007 and 1999.

❚ Poverty: As in­comes rose, the rate of poverty de­clined. The per­cent­age of Amer­i­cans liv­ing with in­come be­low the of­fi­cial poverty line went down to 12.3 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion in 2017, the low­est level since 2006, just be­fore the Great Re­ces­sion of 2007-2009.

The av­er­age monthly gain un­der Trump is 190,000 jobs, 12 per­cent be­low the 217,000 in Obama’s sec­ond term. Trump will have to pick up the pace to ful­fill his cam­paign boast that he will be “the great­est jobs pres­i­dent that God ever cre­ated.”


Crime de­clined a bit in Trump’s first year, ex­cept for rapes, as­saults and mo­tor ve­hi­cle thefts, which in­creased.

The num­ber of homi­cides de­clined by 0.7 per­cent in 2017, ac­cord­ing to the FBI’s an­nual Crime in the United States re­port, af­ter ris­ing the prior two years.

The num­ber of all vi­o­lent crimes went down by 0.2 per­cent. That in­cluded a 2.5 per­cent in­crease in rapes and a 1 per­cent in­crease in as­saults, off­set by a 4 per­cent de­crease in rob­beries and the drop in homi­cides.

The num­ber of prop­erty crimes went down 3 per­cent in 2017, in­clud­ing a 7.6 per­cent drop in bur­glar­ies and a 2.2 per­cent de­crease in larce­nies, but the num­ber of mo­tor ve­hi­cle thefts in­creased slightly, by 0.8 per­cent.

As a can­di­date, Trump re­peat­edly claimed that the mur­der rate was “the high­est it’s been in 45 years.” That was wildly un­true. In fact, the mur­der rate had dropped to the low­est on record in 2014 – 4.4 mur­ders per 100,000 in­hab­i­tants. The peak rate of 10.2 was reached in 1980.

In Trump’s first year, the mur­der rate dropped down a notch to 5.3 per 100,000 pop­u­la­tion – still higher than in each of Obama’s first seven years.

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