Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The unequal impact of Trumponomics

The NY Times reports on the unequal effects of Trumponomics in which Growth Has Lifted Counties That Voted for Trump. Mostly, It’s the Wealthy Ones.. President Trump’s economy has left the most distressed swaths of the country waiting for their share of the good times.

Wealthy areas were already on the mend after the recession. But those far less affluent areas that were promised relief by Trump have not realized Trump’s promises - even though they voted for him. Here are snippets of observations from some heartland counties in Missouri and Illinois.

… the growth under Mr. Trump has not helped everywhere. It has lifted wealthy areas, like St. Charles County [Missouri], which were already growing before he took office. And it has left the most economically troubled swaths of the country, the ones that Mr. Trump promised to revitalize, waiting for their share of the good times.

The divide is pronounced between the high- and low-income counties that helped deliver Mr. Trump the White House.

The most prosperous Trump-supporting counties — as ranked by the Economic Innovation Group, a think tank in Washington focused on geographic disparities in the American economy — added jobs at about a 2 percent annual rate in 2017. The least prosperous Trump counties, which the group calls “distressed,” did not add any new jobs, on net. As a group, the distressed counties saw more businesses close than open in 2017, and they lost population over the course of the year.

St. Charles County, which sits in the most prosperous slice of American counties, saw job growth of nearly 2 percent last year, and business growth of 6 percent. By contrast, about 200 miles north in Illinois, Knox County ranks in the bottom fifth of prosperity nationwide, according to the Economic Innovation Group’s rankings. It flipped in 2016 from supporting Mr. Obama, a Democrat, to Mr. Trump, a Republican.

In Mr. Obama’s final year in office, according to data from the Labor Department, Knox County lost 1 percent of its jobs and businesses. In Mr. Trump’s first year, it lost more than 5 percent of its jobs — and nearly 7 percent of businesses.

Back in St. Charles County, “… many local Trump supporters said they trusted the president had a worthy long-term goal, even if it involved some short-term pain. And they appreciated his efforts to roll back regulations.” But the short-term pain is more severe in Knox County.

In spite of all that:

Republicans nationwide remain optimistic that economic improvement over the next year will leave their families better off, according to polls conducted for The New York Times by the online research firm SurveyMonkey. That is true for high earners, lower earners and the middle class alike. The best predictor of optimism is not income level, the polls suggest. It is the fervor of support for Mr. Trump.

We often hear wonder about why voters, especially Trump voters, vote against their own best interests. Stop wondering. Economics has nothing to do with it. “It is the fervor of support for Mr. Trump.”

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