The economy is booming. Even the New York Times, no fan of the president, decided that “splendid” and “excellent” were appropriate adjectives to describe Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
These showed the nationwide unemployment rate falling to 3.8 percent. If it improves yet further, it will hit lows not seen since the 1960s. The unemployment rate among black people fell to 5.9 percent, an all-time low, which makes one wonder how many African-American voters might think twice about voting against the incumbent Republicans in the midterm elections. The Hispanic or Latino unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a point, but remains below 5 percent. Before President Trump took office, that stat could only be said of one month since the statistics bureau began tracking it in the 1970s.
The good news is not confined to the fact that there is an abundance of jobs. Wages are rising, too. For the first time since the National Federation of Independent Business began surveying about wages in 1986, 35 percent of small business owners increased compensation last month.
While some Democrats still claim the growth is due to the economic genius of former President Barack Obama, much of the credit belongs to Trump and the Republican Congress.
Remember, the day after Trump won the 2016 election, stocks in the Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P 500 each gained more than a full percentage point in value. That wasn’t because Obama announced any new policies. It was because investors knew the incoming government would be better for economic confidence and wealth creation than the outgoing one. Markets adjusted to the fact that Republicans would increase economic confidence and unleash entrepreneurs to do what they do best — grow the economy, create jobs, and improve productivity.
And that’s just what happened. From just before Election Day 2016 to New Year’s Day 2017, Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index spiked from a pessimistic minus 11 to plus 11, at that time the highest point of the economic recovery.
Once Trump began his program of deregulation using the Congressional Review Act, economic growth surged from a lackluster 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 — thanks, Obama — to about 3 percent in each of the last three quarters of 2017. Investors anticipated tax reform and the Dow gained 25 percent in value from Inauguration Day 2017 to the day tax reform was signed in to law. It was only when Trump made serious tariff mistakes that the stock market began to sputter.
Of even more benefit to the economy than what Trump and Republicans did was what business rightly assumed they would not do. That is to say, job creators were able to go about their business of job and wealth creation with more confidence that the people running the federal government would not get in the way, would do no harm. Instead of being demonized or harassed by Democrat Hillary Clinton’s bureaucrats, as they were by Obama’s, businesses have enjoyed a degree of regulatory certainty and respect from the Trump administration.
The economy is seeing the sort of improved prosperity that had been absent for so long, that many people assumed sluggish and depressing advances were the new normal. Republicans, neither the majority in Congress nor the president, actually create jobs. That’s the natural task of the private sector. But both deserve credit for creating the right circumstances for businesses to flourish. Washington has at last gotten out of the way, at least to some extent.
That doesn’t mean their job is done. Trump needs to end his dreadful trade policies and bring tariffs down. Congress needs to get its act together and slash the spending and borrowing. Republicans need to show voters they have a forward-looking agenda to beat Democrats in November and keep the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on the sidelines. Why hand the keys to the economy to the party that routinely slashes the tires.