fb-pixel
Evan Horowitz | Quick study

Six months in, Trump’s economy looks awfully familiar

President Donald Trump spoke to members of the US military following a meeting at the Pentagon Thursday.
President Donald Trump spoke to members of the US military following a meeting at the Pentagon Thursday.SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s short but eventful tenure has been marked by rampant information leaks, Twitter outbursts, unexpected firings — indeed, a whole political sturm und drang (or whatever the Russian phrase for that might be).

Yet, a glance at the Globe’s dashboard of “vital statistics” shows that, in many ways, the state of our nation looks relatively unchanged.

When Trump took the oath of office in January, we selected 11 key metrics to help track the effect of his presidency. So far, there don’t seem to be any grand shifts.

Perhaps the most important source of stability is the economy. Job growth remains strong, with once-discouraged workers continuing to rejoin the labor force. Wage growth continues at the same slow but not abysmal pace it’s maintained for the last several years.

Advertisement



Another reason this dashboard looks so steady — Trump hasn’t (yet?) been able to implement many of his campaign promises. With tax cuts still in the planning phase, we’ve not seen any reduction in the top individual and business tax rates. And because Trump has taken an unexpectedly mild approach to international trade, there’s been little movement in the trade deficit or the value of the dollar.

Even where Trump has made policy changes, they haven’t had much time to percolate into the official data. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportations, for instance, don’t yet show a marked increase. But that might be a temporary lull. Deportation by ICE is the last step in a long removal process, so a big jump might yet be coming.

On some measures, the time lag is even worse. We still don’t have violent crime rates for all of 2016 — much less 2017. Also, information about the number of insured Americans only runs through last December.

Put all these pieces together, and what you see is surprisingly calm water just beneath the roiling waves of Washington scandal — a slight increase in the trade deficit, a similar uptick in the budget deficit, but nothing dramatic or wildly unexpected.

Advertisement



Which is not to say that America has been somehow unaffected by the Trump months. Environmental and financial regulations have been rolled back, Neil Gorsuch has taken his seat on the Supreme Court, and longstanding norms of political behavior have been dangerously eroded.

And yet, on many of the measures we deemed most representative back in January, Trump’s America still looks a lot like Barack Obama’s.


Evan Horowitz digs through data to find information that illuminates the policy issues facing Massachusetts and the U.S. He can be reached at evan.horowitz@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHorowitz.