Issues & Insights

It’s Official: Trump Unleashed A Middle-Class Boom That Benefited Women, Minorities Most

I&I Editorial

Not that you’d ever know it from the media blackout, but households have seen the biggest jump in real median income in at least 52 years. The poverty rate is lower than it’s been since at least 1959, the annual Census report on income and poverty shows.

These are incredible achievements that would be leading every newspaper and TV news program if they had happened under a Democratic president. The absence press coverage is even more astounding when you consider that the gains were among lower-income families, women, blacks and Hispanics.

In other words, every constituent group that Democrats claim that they represent.

Here’s the rundown:

Median household income reaches all-time high: In 2019, median household income shot up 6.8%, the biggest annual increase since at least 1967. To understand how impressive this is, consider that the next biggest increase was 5% in 2015, which came after five years of declines. (When Barack Obama left office, median household income was essentially where it was back in 2000.) From 1967 to 2018, the average annual increase was a mere 0.6%.

Lower-income families gained the most. Despite the endless chants about how President Donald Trump’s policies benefited only the rich, the truth is that lower-income families made the biggest gains in his first three years in office.

The bottom fifth of households saw their incomes climb 10% under Trump. Those in the next fifth saw incomes rise more than 9%.

The top 5% of households saw their share of total income drop.

As a result, the Census Bureau’s measure of income inequality – the Gini Index – declined in 2018 and 2019.

Women gained ground. The female-to-male earnings ratio – a flawed measure of inequality that is nevertheless a fixation of the left – went from 81.7% in 2017 to 82.3% in 2019. That’s the highest ratio in more than 50 years.

Nearly 3 million women entered the workforce over those years, hitting an all-time high of 52 million. By comparison, 2.1 women million joined the workforce in Obama’s last three years in office.

Minorities gained more than whites. Whites’ median income climbed 6.8% from 2017 to 2019. Blacks saw median incomes rise more than 10%. Asians more than 15%, Hispanics more than 7%.

Poverty plunged. From 2017 to 2019, nearly 6 million people escaped poverty, driving the poverty rate down to 10.5% by 2019. That’s lower than it’s been since at least 1959. In fact, since 1959, the poverty rate has averaged 14%. Among blacks, the poverty rate dropped to 18.8%, also the lowest since at least 1959. Among Hispanics, it dropped from 18.3% to 15.7%, the lowest since at least 1972.

Medicaid enrollment dropped. After steadily rising under Obama, Medicaid enrollment dropped under Trump, falling from 66.4 million in 2016 to 64.1 million in 2019.

Employer coverage climbed. More than 5 million people gained employer-based health care insurance coverage after Trump took office, 1.2 million in 2019 alone. The number of uninsured climbed, but that’s entirely the result of people dropping out of the overpriced ObamaCare individual markets.

Now it is true that all of these gains were upended thanks to the COVID-19 lockdowns, which Democrats insist is all Trump’s fault.

But there’s another way to look at this. Without the economic gains delivered by Trump’s tax cut, and his deregulatory and pro-energy policies, the lockdowns would have been far worse.

What’s more, the recovery from those lockdowns has exceeded everyone’s expectations. Unemployment is already below 9% after hitting 14.7%. Half of the jobs lost as a result of the lockdowns have been regained.

There’s a lot of good news here. No wonder it’s all going unreported.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


    • Corporate America and The War On Drugs have something in common. One is addicted to low wage earners and the other is addicted to illegal drugs. Both are criminal in nature. Try to break this cycle and both will turn on you.
      Both are out to destroy the Middle Class.

  • After voting mostly Republican since 1992 I still considered myself an independent until the resistance to trump. Part of that resistance is not to admit that the best social policy is a roaring economy. I can’t tell you how the important that is to me. Liberals used to believe in the private sector. Now they see small business as an impediment to their political domination, or so it seems. And they’re perfectly content to project this even if they don’t believe it … but some obviously do; they are toxic.

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