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Commentary: These 5 charts show just how amazing Trump and GOP have been for the economy

Since Donald Trump and Republicans seized control of Washington, D.C., the economy has been, by virtually any reasonable measurement, improving dramatically. (Getty images)

On Nov. 9, 2016, the New York Times’ Paul Krugman, perhaps the left’s most influential writer on economics and health care, despairingly announced to the world just one day after the presidential election that a global recession would likely soon descend upon the world as a result of Donald Trump’s victory.

“So we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight,” Krugman wrote. “I suppose we could get lucky somehow. But on economics, as on everything else, a terrible thing [Trump’s election win] has just happened.”

That may go down as one of the worst economic predictions of all time. Since Donald Trump and Republicans seized control of Washington, D.C., the economy has been, by virtually any reasonable measurement, improving dramatically.

For quite some time, Krugman, Democrats and left-wing pundits ignored the clear signs showing improvement. After all, how could anything good result from the conservative policies instituted by President Trump and the Republican-led Congress? But after a while, even the Paul Krugmans of the world realized they had to face reality — well, at least their version of it.

The left is no longer pretending America isn’t experiencing remarkable economic growth. Instead, they are shifting the narrative about who is responsible for it. Despite overwhelming evidence showing the rate of improvement for most economic indicators increased shortly after Trump’s election victory, liberals everywhere are insisting it’s Barack Obama who deserves all the credit — not Republicans, not President Trump, and certainly not the men and women who actually produce jobs, services, and products in the marketplace.

Below are five graphs showing just a handful of the economic gains that have been made over the past year. For reference, President Obama’s final year in office has also been included to show the differences between the two periods. Each chart also displays when Hurricanes Harvey and Irma struck, because in some cases, those storms had a strong impact on data (see food stamp enrollment, for example). Unless otherwise noted, data was taken directly from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Full-time employment

Compared to the number of full-time workers in October 2016, one month before Trump’s Election Day win, the economy has added 2.8 million full-time jobs. In the Bureau of Labor Statistics' data, the only other president to have presided in his first year over a more impressive and sudden improvement in full-time employment is Jimmy Carter in 1977.

Unemployment rate

Because the United States’ population is almost always growing, the unemployment rate can be (but isn’t always) a more accurate statistic when determining economic growth. From January 2016 through October 2016, the unemployment rate remained flat at 4.9 percent, after years of very slow and steady improvement. As this chart shows, the unemployment rate dipped once Trump won the election, but then increased over the following two months. After Trump’s inauguration, the unemployment rate rapidly declined as Trump and the Republican-led Congress rolled back or rejected more than 1,500 regulations in fiscal year 2017 alone, promised (and eventually delivered) on tax reform and instituted numerous other free-market policies.

Unemployment for women

Some on the left who continue to deny the economic gains that have been made over the past year have suggested that although some demographics are experiencing economic improvements, many minority groups and women are no better off. This is a presidency that’s only benefitting white men, they say. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many minority groups have experienced tremendous — even historic — growth, and women, as this chart shows, are benefitting economically at a better rate than the majority of other groups in the United States. The drop in unemployment for women under Trump and congressional Republicans is the best we’ve seen in a president’s first year since at least 1948, the earliest date in BLS’ data.

Food stamps

One of the most important indicators of a strong economy is enrollment in welfare programs. Under President Obama, in the wake of the 2008 economic crash, enrollment skyrocketed in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called “food stamps.” This wasn’t simply because the economy had for many years struggled; it’s also because the Obama administration permitted many states to loosen their requirements for food stamp programs, allowing more people to join and stay enrolled for longer periods.

Over the past several years, as Republicans have taken control over state governments across the country, states have re-instituted many reforms for their food stamp programs, which has led to a steady decline in SNAP enrollment. It’s clear from this chart, however, the economic growth ushered in by Trump and congressional Republicans has had a major impact on food stamp enrollment. According to the Department of Agriculture, from November 2016 to November 2017, the most recent data available, enrollment dropped by more than 1.5 million, a decline of 3.6 percent.


Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program are two of the most important and costly welfare programs in the United States. More than 74 million people now depend on Medicaid for their health insurance. This is especially notable because just 56.8 million people were enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP prior to Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid. According to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, from January 2014 to November 2016, monthly Medicaid/CHIP enrollment expanded by an average of more than 373,000. But since January 2017, enrollment has declined by greater than 802,000. This chart shows a marked shift in monthly enrollment changes from the Obama era to the Trump era.

Justin Haskins (@JustinTHaskins) is executive editor and a research fellow at The Heartland Institute. Donald Kendal (@InTheTankPod) is a graphic designer at The Heartland Institute and host of Heartland’s "In the Tank" podcast.

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