President Trump wasted no time in taking full credit for the drop in the unemployment rate to 3.9 percent. He tweeted that "this is the greatest economy in the HISTORY of America." That's patently false. And remember, candidate Trump claimed the official government unemployment rate "would not pass muster in an Economics 101 course." While the low unemployment rate is good news, it is not the only indicator of the country's economic performance. Trump is merely reaping the benefits of policies enacted by the Obama administration; he has achieved little on his own beyond a tax cut that favors the rich. In the ninth year of an economic upturn that Trump inherited from Obama, wage growth is still modest, and median household income is barely above the level it reached during the boom years of the 1990s.
There are many ways to measure the economy; the typical measures include jobs, growth, wages, inflation, debt, and income/wealth inequity. For example, the percentage of people of prime working age (25 to 54 years old) holding a job is still below its 2007 levels. Blue-collar workers have experienced a chronic lack of earnings growth in recent years. Between 2009 and 2017, their pay increased an average of just 0.5 percent per year. Since Trump took office, pay for all wage earners has increased by an average of 0.6 percent per year, and for manufacturing workers, it has risen by 1.1 percent. After adjusting for inflation in the cost of living, median household income in America was several thousand dollars lower in 2014 than it was in 2000. The problem for Trump is that it's not getting much better. Wage growth is still hovering around 2.6 to 2.8 percent, which is barely above inflation. Wage and wealth inequality are higher than they have been in at least a half century.