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Issues & Insights

Anyone Notice That Trump’s Economy Keeps Beating Expectations?

Michael Candelori

February’s jobs report “smashed expectations.” That’s how one news site described the latest monthly employment numbers out of the Commerce Department, which showed the economy created 273,000 jobs last month. Smashing expectations has become a regular feature of the Trump economy. Anyone care to guess why?

Based on the consensus forecast of economists, the first two months of this year should have seen a total of 335,000 jobs created. The actual number was 63% higher: 546,000.

For the past four months, job growth has averaged 248,000, after the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised several previous months’ gains sharply upward. In the best year under President Barack Obama, job growth averaged 250,000 a month.

The current job growth is even more impressive given that it’s coming more than 10 years after the last recession ended, and long after the experts told us we were already at full employment.

There’s more. To get a full picture of how much better than expected the Trump economy is performing, take a look at the forecast put out by the Congressional Budget Office just as Trump was taking office in January 2017.

According to the CBO, which based its forecast on the assumption that the economic policies of the Obama administration remained in place, the economy should have created only 2 million new jobs by this point.

The actual number: 6.9 million.

GDP growth has outpaced the CBO’s prediction in each of the past three years, resulting in an economy that is $600 billion bigger than it was supposed to be. Unemployment, which the CBO expected to be on the rise by now, fell back to 3.5% last month. Wage growth has done better than expected, without triggering inflation.

Then there were the constant warnings of a Trump recession.

Last August, the liberal “explanatory journalism” site Vox.com headlined an article “Why everybody’s worried about a recession again.”

In December 2018, the Washington Post ran a piece headlined: “A recession is coming, Trump will make it so much worse.”

That article reported that “virtually every independent forecaster foresees a slowdown once the sugar rush of Trump’s tax cuts wears off in the next year or so. And in a recent survey of economists by the Wall Street Journal, more than half predicted that we’d have a full-blown recession by 2020.”

Three days int 2017, PBS ran a column titled: “I’m predicting an economic recession in 2017. Are you ready?”

Around the same time, CBS Marketwatch posted an opinion piece warning that the “Next recession will hit during Trump’s first two years.”

Even more recent economic forecasts keep coming up short. The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow, which provides real-time estimates of the current quarter’s GDP growth based on available economic data, is at 3.1%, with less than a month to go in this quarter. The most recent Blue Chip consensus has Q1 growth at under 1.5%. Even with a coronavirus-induced slowdown, it’s very possible Q1 will come in well above that number.

This is all, it should be noted, a dramatic turnaround from the Obama years.

Then, the press was all about “green shoots” and economists kept predicting the economy was poised to lift off. Strong growth was “right around the corner,” they kept saying, and soon we’d see the fruits of Obama’s tax-and-spend-and-regulate economic policies. Yet actual results routinely come in “unexpectedly” worse. GDP growth was below forecast every single year Obama was in the White House.

The only thing surprising about the “unexpectedly” good economic reports during Trump’s time in office isn’t how often economists get it wrong. It’s how little coverage any of it gets. When not ignoring the economy, the press has tried valiantly to either downplay the gains, or issue constant warnings of doom.

Sometimes it even seems as though the press is taking sides.

— Written by John Merline


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23 comments

  • I like this version of “Unexpectedly!” much better than the Obama version.

  • Trump himself has said that he expects the economy to grow at 3%. Hasn’t done that since the tax cut.

    • It’s still better then the Biden/Obama welfare plan for their plantations of socialist voters.

  • “In the best year under President Barack Obama, job growth averaged 250,000 a month.”

    I think that was Obama’s final year in office, the last three months benefitting from the knowledge that Trump had won.

    That information certainly boosted the stock market greatly for at least the week after the election. And much more later, after the promised policies actually took effect.

    • After spending 9 trillion and doubling our national debt, where did all that money go to ? What happen to all those shovel ready jobs? He sure took care of his cronies in the so called solar industries and we are still subsidizing them today .
      They Obama/Biden spent more money then all the presidents before them , where did their promises of socialist utopia
      disappear to.? NUFF SAID !!!

  • It is just proof of how much of a drag government is. All Trump has done is free up the economy from the straight jacket that it has been under. Just think of what it would be like if totally freed of the burden of government. I’m not talking about anarchy, just getting rid of needless government interference.

  • The BLS adjusts the previous two months employment data every month. What I find amazing is that every monthly employment adjustment since Trump took office has been an upward revision. Remember the October 2012 employment report that showed a large employment gain right before Obama’s 2012 re-election? Even Jack Welch called BS on that one! Sure enough, subsequent revisions lowered the October headline number. 2008-2016 revisions tended to be downward, but were mixed, as expected with this data series.

    What are the chances that EVERY monthly revision goes in one direction over a three year window? Pretty darn low…

  • Current economic expansion hasn’t much to do with Trump, it was growing eight years before he got there.

    Any short term sugar-high derived from his tax cuts is countered by the inexcusable damage of trillion dollar deficits in boom times— sheer madness

    • Spoken like a die-hard Never Trumper. The economy was limping along for Obama’s years. Now, it’s surging. Trump cut taxes and ended needless regulations, strangling economic growth.

    • “Current economic expansion hasn’t much to do with Trump, it was growing eight years before he got there.”

      Truer words were never written. We all must remember: Anything bad that happens is the fault of the current Republican president and anything good that happens must be credited to the previous Democratic president.

      And vice versa, of course: The evil, fascist George W. Bush was the cause of all subsequent President Awesome Boyfriend’s errors.

    • here.”

      Truer words were never written. We all must remember: Anything bad that happens is the fault of the current Republican president and anything good that happens must be credited to the previous Democratic president.

      And vice versa, of course: The evil, fascist George W. Bush was the cause of all subsequent President Awesome Boyfriend’s errors.

    • You can close your eyes and click your ruby slippers while repeating that higher taxes and putting more of the economy under the control of the Federal government is the road to prosperity all you want; but while that may get you sent back home by the voters, it is not the way to get to the White House.

  • Sometimes it seems like the press is taking sides. Is that the understatement of the year, or what.

  • If you write this article and do not mention that Trump bought his economic good news with a giant deficit increase while Obama’s came with a giant deficit decrease it’s just propaganda.

    • The deficit from 2010 to 2012 averaged 7.9% of GDP. The average growth in GDP over those years was 2.1%. (The recession had ended in June 2009.) The deficit from 2017 to 2019 averaged 3.9% of GDP while the economy grew an average of 2.5%. The connection between deficits and growth seems pretty shaky.

    • Obama’s anemic “good news” came with a giant deficit decrease?

      In what universe?

    • Nice try John Yes Obama started with a big number so while he cut a Trillion dollars from the annual deficit the average looks bad. It Fell every year be honest. Trump started with a lower number (thanks Obama) makes his average not look so bad but it has doubled under him. Alan look up the difference between debt and Deficit. I am guessing that is where you confussion is Alan just educate yourself a bit.

  • Our economic problem was excessive imports and immigration driving down wages for Americans

  • I was wondering what crisis would be manufactured right about now to cause Trumps re-election campaign some heartburn. Asians in masks spraying the streets seems to have done the trick.

    But my business is crushing it and the only one who had a heart attack over this is Jamie Dimon. Probably gambled all that main street money in China.

    Meh. I’m voting for Trump.

  • ridiculous article. No where does it say anything about how much Trump is spending to keep the markets up. Articles like this might as well praise a guy that increases spending on his credit card to make it seem like like he’s earning more money.

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