President Donald Trump’s critics have called him many things during his nearly three years in office. “Racist.” “Fascist.” “Misogynist.” “Anti-middle class.” “Anti-poor.” And so on. But if that’s so, he’s failing miserably at all those things they accuse him of.
A spate of recent data and reports, including an update of the income and poverty statistics by the U.S. Census Bureau for 2017 and 2018, show just how bad that failure is.
Take that “racist” charge. The Census report shows that black unemployment, at 5.5% in August, is the lowest it’s been since records started being kept in 1972.
The gap between black unemployment and white unemployment is also the lowest on record.
Typically, the unemployment rate for African Americans is at least two times the white unemployment rate. Today, it’s about 1.6 times the white rate.
It isn’t only African Americans who are doing better. Both Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans now have near-record low unemployment rates.
Just ask the Washington Post. To its credit, it recently analyzed Labor Department data. What it found was shocking: More than 86% of the jobs added since the end of 2016 went to minorities. Out of 5.2 million new jobs, minorities accounted for 4.5 million.
If Trump’s a racist, he’s an abject failure.
What about that other favorite epithet of the left, “misogynist”? If Trump hates women so much, why do his policies seem to provide so many opportunities for them?
As The Daily Signal’s Mary Margaret Olohan notes: “Among full-time, year-round workers, the number of women increased by 1.6 million and the number of men increased by about 700,000 between 2017 and 2018.”
The median real income for female-headed households with no spouse rose 5.8% from 2017 to 2018. For married couples, there was no change. The poverty rate for female-led households shrank from 26.2% in 2017 to 24.9% in 2018.
OK, but surely, billionaire Trump hates the poor and his policies have been disastrous for them, right?
In fact, as the Census data show, the number of people living in poverty fell by 1.4 million people in 2018 alone, with the poverty rate dropping from 12.3% to 11.8%, its lowest since before the 2007 financial crisis. That decline was led by female-headed households, minority ones in particular, the most vulnerable of all.
Meanwhile, Department of Agriculture data show that 6.3 million Americans have fallen out of the food stamp program since Trump took office. The main reason: parents in poor families are getting jobs and are no longer eligible.
Critics might have a point about the shrinking middle class. There are indeed fewer Americans falling into that classification. But not for the reasons you might think.
As economist Mark J. Perry notes, the middle class is shrinking and has been for a long time. The reason: As the economy expands, more people have entered the high-income brackets than ever before in history.
Since 2007, the year before the financial crisis, the middle class — defined as those earning $35,000 to $100,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars — has fallen from 43% of the population to 41.7% in 2018.
A sign that the middle class is being “squeezed,” as the left likes to say? Hardly.
The share of those considered “poor” has also fallen, from 29.4% to 27.9% of the population.
Where did all the poor and middle class go? To the upper-income level. It swelled from 27.7% to 30.4%.
“Many prominent people like Paul Krugman and progressive politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren claim that American’s middle class has been declining, disappearing, collapsing, losing ground, vanished, stagnated, etc.,” Perry, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute recently wrote. “But the Census Bureau data on household income over time displayed above demonstrate conclusively that those assertions are incredibly and verifiably wrong.”
As for those at the bottom, a recent report by the group Just Facts found that the poorest 20% of Americans consume more goods and services than the average citizen does in most rich countries, including Europe.
As James D. Agresti of the Foundation for Economic Education put it, “In other words, if the U.S. ‘poor’ were a nation, it would be one of the world’s richest.”
The point here is, those trends have accelerated under Trump, data show.
Are these data surprising? Not when you consider that economists are almost unanimous in saying that the best antidote for poverty is a job.
Trump’s tax cuts and deregulation helped push economic and job growth up strongly after years of Obama-era stagnation.
That doesn’t mean every policy the White House puts forth has been good for the economy, as the raging debate over tariffs shows.
Still, as the old saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” That’s still true today. And for women and minorities, thanks to Trump’s policies and the economy’s ongoing expansion, the boats have never been higher.
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