December 29, 2017


The economy is roaring. Why isn't Trump popular? (W. James Antle III, December 29, 2017, The Week)

We are on track to end the year with a 4.1 percent unemployment rate, a 17-year low. The economy grew by 3.2 percent last quarter, only the second example of consecutive quarterly growth in excess of 3 percent in three years. The U.S. added some 1.7 million new jobs in year one of Trump.

You can poke holes in these statistics, as Trump did himself when he painted a dismal picture of the economy during the campaign despite generally favorable data. Labor force participation rates are still low by historical standards, suggesting some of the jobless have stopped seeking work entirely. Others are employed in jobs that pay less than the ones they lost in the recession. Growth isn't shared equally, with a few parts of Trump Country lagging. Health-care costs continue to eat into family incomes.

One can even quibble over how much better economic conditions are under Trump than former President Barack Obama, who certainly inherited a worse economy from his own predecessor. Of course, the recession Bill Clinton ran against in 1992 under the "economy, stupid" theory had actually ended before he even formally declared his candidacy, so these things are par for the course.

Still, the economy is doing well enough for Trump to reap some political benefits. Instead his job approval rating sits below 40 percent in the RealClearPolitics polling average, with 56.2 percent disapproving. A recent Reuters/Ipsos survey found only 35 approval, 60 percent disapproval. Democratic congressional candidates are favored by nearly 13 points in the generic ballot while 59.3 percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track.

If it was all about the economy, Trump's approval rating should be better than 50 percent. Yet 60 percent view the president unfavorably in a recent CNN poll.

Of course, it doesn't help that he's at war with everything that produced the boom.

Posted by at December 29, 2017 7:56 AM


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