Jobs and Wages Improved for Black Americans During Pre-Pandemic Trump Years

(p. A11) Over the first three years of Mr. Trump’s presidency, blacks (and Hispanics) experienced record-low rates of unemployment and poverty, while wages for workers at the bottom of the income scale rose faster than they did for management. Whether that was the goal of the Trump administration or an unintended consequence is a debate I’ll leave to others. But there is no doubting that the financial situation of millions of working-class black Americans improved significantly under Mr. Trump’s policies.

. . .

. . . job growth accelerated, unemployment kept falling, and economic growth improved. In early 2017, the new president set about implementing what he had promised during the campaign: lower taxes and lighter regulation. He nominated Kevin Hassett, who had published research showing how corporate taxes depress wages for manufacturing workers, to lead the Council of Economic Advisers. He urged Congress to reduce the tax rate on corporate profits, which at 35% was one of the highest in the developed world.

. . .

Between 2017 and 2019, median household incomes grew by 15.4% among blacks and only 11.5% among whites. The investment bank Goldman Sachs released a paper in March 2019 that showed pay for those at the lower end of the wage distribution rising at nearly double the rate of pay for those at the upper end. Average hourly earnings were growing at rates that hadn’t been seen in almost a decade, but what “has set this rise apart is that it’s the first time during the economic recovery that began in mid-2009 that the bottom half of earners are benefiting more than the top half—in fact, about twice as much,” CNBC reported.

Citing a graph included in Goldman’s analysis, CNBC added that the “trend began in 2018”—the first year that the corporate tax cuts were in effect—“and has continued into this year and could be signaling a stronger economy than many experts think.”

For the full commentary, see:

Jason L. Riley. “The Trump Boom Lifted Black Americans.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, January 29, 2022): A11.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date January 28, 2022, and has the same title as the print version.)

The passages from Riley’s commentary quoted above were adapted from his book:

Riley, Jason L. The Black Boom. West Conshocken, PA: Templeton Press, 2022.

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