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Los Osos High School

Opinion: President Trump is not running a successful economy

The economy has been one of the things President Trump has touted over his presidency. Does the claim hold credible? 

A strong economy is essential to all life. Economic success leads to a higher quality of life, decreases in poverty and increased average wages. The main economic measures are GDP growth, the unemployment rate, stock market growth (S&P 500 performance), median household income, wage growth and the federal deficit.

As a basis of comparison, the Obama presidency ended with a 2.5% increase in GDP, a 4.7% unemployment rate and the S&P 500 being worth $2274.64. The average household income was $62.9k, there was a 2.4% wage growth and -584.65 billion as the federal deficit.  

Although President Trump did inherit a relatively strong economy from Former President Obama, most of the economic measures grew steadily, prior to COVID. Before 2020, the GDP during quarter 4 was a 2.4% increase. There were some impressive highs, like a 3.8% increase in GDP during 2017 Q4.

The unemployment rate before COVID was 3.5% which was a considerable low, although the unemployment rate had been steadily decreasing starting under the Obama presidency.

The S&P 500 prices, including COVID, are $3572.66 currently which is an all-time high. There were steep drop-offs during March when COVID first hit, however, there was an overall growth of 44%.

As a comparison, former presidents Obama and Clinton saw growths of 182.1% and 209.8%., respectively. After accounting for the fact that they were two-term presidents, their respective growth during one term was around 92.7% and 75%.

Before 2020, the median household income increased to 68.7k, around a 5.8k increase after the end of the Obama presidency. The data for 2020 is unavailable as of now.

Pre-pandemic the wage growth was 3.3% in March 2020. Before 2020, the federal deficit was $-984.39 billion, which is considerably lower than what it was under Obama’s terms. Before COVID, the economy was relatively strong seeing success in GDP, unemployment rate, household income and wage growth. 

Despite President Trump not claiming responsibility for COVID, the economy took a significant turn during the last year of his presidency.

Starting in 2020, the GDP has significantly fallen. The GDP is currently at an all-time low since the Great Depression in 1929.

After COVID hit, the unemployment rate took a sharp increase hitting a peak of 14.7% but has now leveled off to around 7.9%. The wage growth increased under COVID being around 4.6% currently.

One of the most dramatic increases is the increase in the federal deficit. Currently, it is around -3.3 trillion, an all-time low. After COVID, all of the previous success Trump saw completely fell except wage growth. 

Essentially, under the Trump presidency the only economic measure that saw success was wage growth. The data for household income for 2020 is not out yet and therefore that cannot be determined as a success. The stock market did see significant growth, but it was only half of the success Former President Obama saw during his first term.

So, no, the claim of President Trump running a successful economy does not hold true.