Moneybox

Basically Everything Trump Said About the Economy Was a Lie

President Donald Trump delivers the State of the Union address at the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday.
Sigh.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

During Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Donald Trump claimed that the United States was in the midst of an “economic miracle.” He touted, “In just over two years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom, a boom that has rarely been seen before. There has been nothing like it.”

Even by our president’s high standards, this was impressively hyperbolic nonsense. There is absolutely nothing unprecedented about the strong streak of economic growth the United States is currently enjoying, other than the length of time the expansion has lasted (which has little to do with Trump).

I mean, we’ve been through this before. Here’s GDP. Do you see a boom anywhere? Squint hard as you like. It’s not there.

GDP Growth

Job growth also hasn’t changed pace much since Trump took office.

Job Growth

The president specifically bragged about adding 600,000 manufacturing jobs, “something almost everyone said was impossible to do.” This was also wrong. People have repeatedly said Trump could never bring back all of the manufacturing jobs the U.S. has lost to China over the past two decades, and indeed, he hasn’t come close. (See below.) Manufacturing employment has picked up a bit after flattening during the mini-industrial recession of 2015 and 2016, but we’re not talking about a renaissance in U.S. factory work.

Manufacturing jobs

And then there was this choice bit about worker pay:

Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades and growing for blue-collar workers, who I promise to fight for, they are growing faster than anyone else thought possible.

Fastest pace in decades? Huh? Here’s wage growth for production and non-supervisory employees, aka the blue-collar workers Trump is talking about. There is nothing out of the ordinary happening here.

Graph of hourly earnings

Adjust the figures for inflation. Go ahead. Same story. There’s no miracle.

real wages

I mean, I could go on. At one point Trump tried to take credit for the boom in U.S. oil production, as if he invented fracking. He said companies are “coming back to our country in large numbers” because of tax cuts and deregulation, which is a figment of his imagination. He talked about how more people than ever are working, which is only true because of population growth (labor force participation rates are not at all-time highs). He then ended his riff by insisting that the only things that could stop the good times from rolling were “foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations.” As if Democrats are going to tank the economy by looking too hard into possible Russian election interference. Like every other economic talking point in this speech, this too was deluded.