The labor market the United States is experiencing right now wasn’t supposed to be possible. Not that long ago, the overwhelming consensus among economists would have been that you couldn’t have a 3.6 percent unemployment rate without also seeing the rate of job creation slowing (where are new workers going to come from with so few out of work, after all?) and having an inflation surge (a worker shortage should mean employers bidding up wages, right?).
Employers added 304,000 new jobs to the US economy in January — once again surpassing economic forecasts, according to the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the latest jobs report once again shows little wage growth, which remains the biggest weakness in the American economy. The average US worker hasn’t seen their paycheck get much bigger since the Great Recession, which ended around 2009.
It is true that the global economy is sputtering, and that the stock market is in its worst pullback in a decade, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index down more than 19 percent since Sept. 20 as of Monday’s close. But this sense of gloom and pessimism has gotten ahead of the facts on the ground, especially concerning the United States economy.The real risk is not that insurmountable challenges knock the economy off course. It is that poor leadership converts moderate economic shocks into a crisis.
Blue-collar jobs are growing at their fastest rate in more than 30 years, helping fuel a hiring boom in many small towns and rural areas that are strong supporters of President Trump ahead of November's mid-term elections. Jobs in goods-producing industries — mining, construction, and manufacturing — grew 3.3 percent in the year preceding July, the best rate since 1984, according to a Washington Post analysis.
Low-, middle- and high-skilled jobs all saw some wage growth. Even so, the job market can vary radically depending on what people do and where they live. “In some occupations — typically those with low-skill requirements and relatively pleasant working conditions — there is a huge oversupply of candidates,” said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at the online employment market site ZipRecruiter.
Economic growth surged in the second quarter — but don’t expect the boom to last. The second-quarter acceleration was widely anticipated by economists, a result of a confluence of events unlikely to recur. Most economists expect growth to slow in the second half of the year. Still, recent data does suggest that the pace of growth has picked up this year.
Potential perils are in plain sight: An intense and unpredictable tariff battle is alarming businesses across the country. The annual federal deficit is heading toward $1 trillion. Credit card debt is soaring. And the synchronous wave that lifted every world economy at the year’s start has dissipated. So what? Such risks have done little to puncture the exuberant optimism that is encouraging American businesses to ramp up hiring and consider new investment.
So what is the most honest way of talking about the Trump economy? It goes like this: The president inherited an economy that had come a long way toward healing. During his administration, the economy has continued growing at about the same rate it did before he took office, pushing incomes, employment and output to yet higher levels. There are plenty of problems that remain in the United States, economic and otherwise, and the degree of credit the president deserves for the state of the economy is an open debate.
Despite ongoing attacks from pro-business Republicans, there is data indicating that President Obama has a sterling, possibly incomparable, record regarding economic growth policies. The reports states that economic performance is directly related to policies enacted by the president and Obama deserves all the credit for that.