The Labor Department issued a solid jobs report today. 209,000 jobs were added to the economy, beating expectations. Unemployment is at 4.3%, a solid number.
(Of course, the unemployment rate is a virtually meaningless figure, because it doesn’t count people who have dropped out of the workforce entirely. The labor force participation rate, a far more meaningful figure, is at 62.9%, still near its 38-year low. But nobody will talk about that today. Republicans who remembered to look at that number in the Obama years will suddenly forget about it under Trump. And Democrats have never cared about that number.)
Partisans on both sides will of course reflexively claim that their respective Presidents deserve credit for today’s good news. Obama partisans will note that the unemployment rate represents a continuation of its downward trend since 2011. Trump partisans will say that Trump is president now and deserves the credit for what happens today.
Excellent Jobs Numbers just released – and I have only just begun. Many job stifling regulations continue to fall. Movement back to USA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2017
The truth is, a single man is not responsible for the performance of the economy. But when that man is a U.S. president, he can have some effect.
Obama took what should have been a strong recovery after a bad recession, and turned it into a tepid one with the job killer ObamaCare. Full-time positions were decimated and the urge to build back was squashed.
Trump, for all the chaos of his White House, and his legislative fecklessness (notably his inability to move Congress on ObamaCare repeal), has nevertheless done one thing right: he has begun to reduce burdensome regulations on businesses. The expectation that this will continue, plus the prospect of tax reform, no doubt has a positive effect on the outlook for big business.
Trump partisans should be careful about taking credit for the economy today, however. We are in a clear asset bubble — one almost as obvious as the stock market bubble of the 1990s and the real estate bubble of the 2000s. The problem is that the current bubble encompasses both. Meanwhile, Trump is doing nothing about our massive looming government debt bubble, which will precipitate the biggest economic disaster of them all.
Nobody even talks about the debt any more.
A more immediate threat is the Fed’s decision to begin unwinding its balance sheet — a move that typically results in a recession. Whether that recession hits before or after 2020 will have a lot to do with whether Trump gets re-elected.
But hey. Enjoy the good news in the meantime.