President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address on Jan. 30 in front of a joint session of both houses of Congress. Some of the topics he mentioned in the speech included job growth, unemployment, and the economy. During his address, Trump made several claims about the state of the nation’s economy and a number of them were misleading and inaccurate.
At the beginning of his address, Trump touted the accomplishments of his administration—and by extension, the American people—during the first year of his presidency. Trump said that since his election, 2.4 million jobs had been created, including 200,000 manufacturing jobs. He also said that the unemployment rate hit a 45-year low. He specifically mentioned that the African-American unemployment rate was at an all-time low.
Trump’s claims about the number of jobs he has created are not exactly accurate. According to CNN, roughly 1.8 million jobs have been added, and of those, only about 184,000 manufacturing jobs were added. His exaggeration of the number of manufacturing jobs is slightly better than his exaggeration of the number of total jobs, but that does not make it OK. Trump did something similar when he referred to the unemployment rate as well.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between December 2017 and January 2018, the African-American unemployment rate went from 6.8 percent to 7.7 percent, which is near the rate it was when Trump was inaugurated. His misleading claim about this part of the unemployment rate is not something to be proud of. Public officials should not mislead the public in this manner, and yet he does so anyway.
Trump said that the stock market has hit an all-time high and that Americans who had savings plans such as a 401(k) plan, a retirement plan, a college savings account, or a pension plan have benefitted from this. He attributed all of this to his mission to “make America great again for all Americans. According to The Washington Post, $6.9 trillion of wealth has been created since Trump’s inauguration last Jan., but most Americans have not seen any of that wealth.
Only half of Americans own stocks or have retirement plans, so most of the benefits have not had as much impact as Trump implied. Trump’s failure to address this says a lot about his opinion of the American people. If he is willing to mislead them about something as simple as economic growth, his credibility with regard to economic policy is thrown into question.
During his address, Trump said that after years of wages stagnating, they have finally begun to increase. That is true, but there is a consequence that results from this increase. On Feb. 2, the Dow Jones closed at 25,521 points, down 666 points in its biggest drop since Brexit, according to CNN. This drop was the result of the wages of workers increasing. According to CNN, this leads to investors having more worries about inflation the bond market. These wage increases only have benefits for the moment, but not for the long run. If the trend continues, investors will only become even more worried about inflation and the bond market.
Trump should try to do something to prevent these point drops, instead of indirectly supporting them. Trump is a businessman, one would think that he would have the foresight to know that wage increases and the stock market are related.
Even if we were to assume that he somehow did not expect this to happen, it is not enough for the American people to assume that this is correct. The Trump Administration has economic advisors along with the Department of the Treasury, so it is reasonable to assume that at least one person somewhere knew that this was a possibility and told some official that informed the President or his closest advisors.
“[Let] us begin tonight by recognizing that the state of our Union is strong because our people are strong,” Trump said.
These are the exact words the president said when he began his address, but the state of the union can’t be strong when mistrust of our government and our leaders is high.
The state of the Union can’t be strong when some of the President’s biggest economic “accomplishments” are already starting to fall apart days after he boasted about them.
When the politicians that we are expected to trust mislead us and distort the truth, we all lose. As a result, the state of the Union is not strong.