The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its newest jobs report on Friday, and the data clearly show, under the pro-business policies implemented by the Trump administration, low-income and working-class families are enjoying significant economic gains not experienced in nearly 20 years.
Democrats and liberal pundits have argued the recent economic improvements are only helping a relatively small, mostly wealthy segment of the country, but nothing could be further from the truth. According to BLS, the national unemployment rate for December was 4.1 percent, a 0.6 percentage point drop from December 2016. That’s an impressive figure, especially since the unemployment rate stayed flat at 4.9 percent from January 2016 through October 2016, the final month before Trump’s election victory. But what’s especially remarkable is the extent to which working-class Americans are profiting under Trump and Republican leadership in Congress.
For instance, the unemployment rate for Americans without a high school diploma was 6.3 percent in December 2017, down from 7.6 percent one year earlier. Further, the average monthly unemployment rate for this demographic in 2017, 6.5 percent, is the lowest it’s been since 2000 and the second-lowest figure in BLS’ data for that demographic, which goes back 26 years to 1992.
The unemployment rate for workers who have graduated from high school but don’t have a college degree is equally impressive. It dropped from 5.1 percent in December 2016 to 4.2 percent in December 2017, and the monthly average unemployment rate, 4.6 percent, is the best it’s been since 2007. Further, the average unemployment rate for this group in the final four months of 2017, 4.28 percent, was lower than any annual average recorded since 2001.
The quality of the jobs available has also improved. The average number of Americans 16 years or older working part-time for economic reasons, about 4.91 million in December 2017, is about 600,000 jobs less than December 2016 and the lowest figure for the month of December in a decade. That means more Americans who have been forced to work part-time are finding higher-paying, full-time employment.
Data for the third quarter of 2016, the most recent available, show weekly full-time wages improved compared to 2016, with workers without college degrees enjoying some of the most significant increases.
Additionally, enrollment in a variety of social programs has dropped off, serving as further proof of how Trump’s pro-business, free-market policies are promoting economic growth. Food stamp rolls have decreased dramatically. Total national enrollment declined by 3.3 percent from September 2016 to September 2017, and only three states experienced enrollment increases.
From October 2015 to October 2016, enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program grew by 2.9 million people, to 74.7 million. But from October 2016 to October 2017, the most recently available data, Medicaid enrollment dipped by about 500,000, a truly astounding turnaround.
Some might claim working-class families should thank former President Barack Obama, not Trump, for the improving economy, but a fair analysis of the available economic data reveals although the economy had been improving slowly for a long time under Obama, its rate of increase rose markedly once Trump won the election in November 2016. This isn’t a coincidence.
Investors, businesses, and consumers are more confident today than at any time under Obama because Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration have scaled back burdensome and unnecessary regulations, approved important economic projects such as the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and promised and delivered a massive tax reform law. Job creators big and small are taking advantage of these policies, and working-class families are benefiting.
There are many good reasons to believe the best is yet to come. In 2018, the economy is expected to continue growing and families across the country will soon be giving much less of their hard-earned money to the federal government because of the recently approved Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This legislation lowers most tax rates, doubles the standard deduction, and provides families with children a $2,000 per-child tax credit, $1,400 of which will be refundable, meaning many lower- and middle-income families will be able to get a much bigger tax refund.
The Trump administration also recently announced it plans to open most of America’s offshore territory to drilling, which could add thousands of new jobs over the next decade and make the United States more energy independent.
Left-leaning Democrats and liberal pundits have said repeatedly over the past century the only way to get the economy moving forward is for government to take greater control over markets, spend billions or even trillions of tax dollars, and redistribute wealth. The Trump administration and congressional Republicans have taken a completely different approach. It’s paying off for everyone, including working-class Americans.
Justin Haskins (@JustinTHaskins) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is an executive editor at the Heartland Institute.
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