An important piece of economic news has been overshadowed recently due to the important coverage of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death and President Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
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Released two weeks ago, the Census Bureau’s report on “Income and Poverty in the United States” for 2019 clearly shows that, pre-pandemic, President Trump’s economic success blew past that of any other presidency.
First, the Census Bureau reported that real median household income grew to $68,703 in 2019, an impressive 6.8% increase over 2018. It was the largest one-year increase in median income on record going back to 1967. It was also 45 percent more growth in a single year ($4,379) than Obama/Biden produced in their entire 8 years in office ($3,021).
As was the case throughout Trump’s first three years, the economic benefits were widespread. While the overall growth rate was 6.8%, real median income grew by an even greater 7.9% for Black Americans, 7.1% for Hispanic Americans, and 10.6% for Asian Americans. All record highs as were the new income levels for each of these groups.
As for talking points about how the Trump tax cuts benefitted only the rich, well, they were false. As incomes grew in 2019, the poverty rate plummeted 1.3 percentage points to a 60 year low of 10.5%. This was the largest reduction in poverty in over 50 years. It lifted over 4.1 million people out of poverty, the largest yearly decrease since 1966. Just for comparison purposes, over the Obama/Biden era, the number of people living in poverty increased by 787,000.
Minority groups again experienced the largest improvements. While the overall poverty rate declined 1.3 percentage points, Black poverty fell by 2.0 percentage points, Hispanic poverty fell by 1.8, and Asian poverty fell by 2.8. According to the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) “the poverty rate fell to an all-time record low for every race and ethnic group in 2019.”
Child poverty decreased to 14.4 percent, the lowest child poverty rate observed since 1973 and down from 18 percent at the end of the Obama/Biden era. The best family welfare program truly is a job.
Let’s take a little broader view. Over the Trump administration’s first three years, between 2016 and 2019, real median household income increased 9.2% while the economy lifted 6.6 million people out of poverty. That’s the largest 3-year poverty reduction for the start of any presidency since the initial drop in 1964 when the War on Poverty began.
How about the Democrats’ bugaboo “income inequality”? Surely with Democrats’ claims that Trump’s economic policies benefit only the rich, it must have increased. Well, it didn’t.
While COVID-19 impacted the Census Bureau’s data collection efforts, it found that the data quality met usual Census Bureau standards. According to the CEA, the Census Bureau’s research suggests that even taking potential issues with the response rate into account, “real median income still would have increased and poverty still would have decreased by large magnitudes.”
These pre-pandemic numbers show the potential for all Americans of President Trump’s pro-growth policies, particularly in comparison to the stagnation of the Obama/Biden era’s big government policies.
As we approach Election Day, keep in mind that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wants to reverse Trump’s policies, repeal the Trump tax cuts, increase regulation and grow the government in an expansion of the Obama era policies that produced the weakest economic recovery since WWII. President Trump wants to rebuild the economy with the polices that produced the strongest labor market in modern times, including 2019’s historically positive numbers.
The Census Bureau’s Income and Poverty report for 2019 has set a new standard by which to measure economic success once the pandemic ends. President Trump has promised that the economy will exceed even the impressive results we saw in 2019 should he be re-elected. Given those results, we have every reason to believe him.
Andy Puzder was chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants for more than 16 years, following a career as an attorney. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy. He was nominated by President Trump to serve as U.S. labor secretary. In 2018, Puzder authored "The Capitalist Comeback: The Trump Boom and the Left's Plot to Stop It" (Center Street). His latest piece, a Broadside by Encounter Books titled, “Getting America Back to Work” was released on April 28, 2020.