Issues & Insights
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The Blue-Collar Jobs Boom Nobody Seems To Notice (Because It’s Happening Under Trump)

Joe Biden, who is currently leading in the polls against the horde of other Democratic presidential hopefuls, believes he can win back the working-class voters who defected to Donald Trump last election and thereby win the presidency. So Biden is trying to convince these voters that Trump was making a lot of empty promises.

“The stock market is roaring. But you don’t feel it,” he said at a rally. “There are — $2 trillion tax cut last year. Did you feel it? Did you get anything from it? Of course not. Of course not.”

Actually, they did get something out of it. A lot, as it turns out.

Not that you’d know it from the way the economy has been covered — or, more appropriately, covered up — by the mainstream press during the Trump administration. They take their cues from Democrats like Biden or Bernie Sanders, who say Trump’s promise to the working class as “a fraud.”

So reporting on the subject tends to be along the lines of this Chicago Tribune headline declaring that “Trump struggles to create blue-collar jobs in key parts of the U.S.”

But the official government jobs data show something entirely different.

We compared job growth by industry for the 27 months after Trump took office in January 2017 to President Obama’s last 27 months in office, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Overall, Obama beats Trump — 5.5 million to 5.2 million.

But break the numbers down and something interesting emerges.

Under Trump, jobs in goods-producing industries — manufacturing, construction, mining — have been increasing at a much faster clip than when Joe Biden was vice president. These are the jobs Democrats are constantly promising that their policies will create and protect.

The data show that the economy created 1.2 million goods-producing jobs since Trump took office. That’s more than twice as many as were created in Obama’s last 27 months in office (455,000).

Look at manufacturing. In Obama’s last 27 months, the economy created 109,000 manufacturing jobs. It’s created 470,000 so far under Trump. Jobs in the durable goods manufacturing industry declined during this time under Obama. As did mining and logging jobs. They made solid gains under Trump.

Blue-collar workers are seeing stronger wage gains as well, with weekly wages for goods-producing jobs up $70 under Trump (a 7% increase), compared with $39 under Obama (a 4% bump).

It’s white-collar service jobs that have been climbing more slowly under Trump. They’re up 4 million, compared with 5 million under Obama. Retail trade jobs actually declined in Trump’s first 27 months, compared with a 521,000 gain in Obama’s last 27 months. Government jobs have also been growing more slowly under Trump.

But even here, the more working-class transportation and warehousing industries saw faster job growth under Trump than Obama — 445,000 to 397,000.

And overall wage growth for service industry jobs has accelerated, with weekly wages up $46.66 under Trump (a 6.7% gain), compared with $35.64 (or 5.4%) under Obama

More signs of health for the working class: Earlier this month, the Labor Department reported that job openings had surged by 346,000 to a seasonally adjusted 7.5 million in March. Vacancies in the construction industry climbed by 73,000, and there were 87,000 job openings in the transportation, warehousing and utilities sector.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the labor market is so tight that manufacturers are now “shift scheduling, investing in amenities for workers or offering more flex time, companies believe that treating blue-collar workers more like white-collar counterparts may convince them to sign on or stick around.”

We seem to recall that this is pretty much what Trump promised. In fact, just before the elections, Trump said that “If we lower our taxes, remove destructive regulations, unleash the vast treasure of American energy, and negotiate trade deals that put America First, then there is no limit to the number of jobs we can create and the amount of prosperity we can unleash.”

Of course, telling the public about the gains being made by the working class would mean giving Trump credit for something. And we can’t have that, now can we?

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John Merline

Veteran journalist John Merline was Deputy Editor of Commentary and Opinion at Investor's Business Daily. Before IBD, he launched and edited the Opinion section of AOL News, and was a member of the editorial board of USA Today, where he continues to be a regular contributor. He’s been published in the Washington Post, National Review, Detroit News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Forbes, and numerous other publications. He is regular commentator on the One America News Network and on local talk radio. He got his start in journalism under the tutelage of M. Stanton Evans.


  • I agree that the media has placed their bets on Democratic candidates in the coming election campaign race, just as they did the last camaign race when Trump was racing against Hilary. Not only that, they continue to throw trash at Trump when he’s actually making some headway.
    This may actually open up opportunities for alternate media in the coming campaign.
    If the big media loses this time around as well, likely it would leave them permanently damaged, maybe even out of business, since you can’t continue to be wrong and expect to have any smart fans.
    This is where basic honesty comes into play. Are the media giants just dishonest, liars, supporting progressivism, or even Communism in this instance, in disparaging Trump trying to get a favorable American worker deal out of the Chinese.

  • I’m a small Contractor, my business doubled last year after suffering a 65% loss under Obama. I hung on because I determined to be the last man standing.
    Thank you Mr. T. It is trickle down all over again. I started in business back then and am happy to tie the bow on it these next few years and then depart.

  • You’re right, Conrad; the the deprived millions, the 99%, under capitalism have got NOTHING more to expect than just something that trickles down to them. They must work to produce all wealth & luxuries by the sweat of their brow and lead a hard and humble existence, like beasts of burden, throughout their life and watch the 1% idlers lead a fabulous lifestyle before their silly eyes just because they were all BORN poor, which fact is NOT attributable to any faults or failings of theirs while the fact that the 1% were all BORN rich or super-rich is NOT attributable to any noble or creditable acts or achievements of theirs, RIGHT ?

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