President Trump's critics cannot deny that the economy is doing well, so instead they insist that all the benefits have gone to the rich and big corporations. "America's middle class is under attack,"
Most recently Elizabeth Warren
it claims in its announcement of the December presidential campaign last year.
The latest data from the Census Bureau's monthly surveys tells a different story. Real median household income – the amount earned by those in the middle – hit $ 65,084 (in 2019 dollars) in the 12 months ending in July. That's the highest level ever and a $ 4144 gain, or 6.8%, since Trump took office. By comparison, during President Obama's 7½ years – from the end of the recession in June 2009 through January 2017 – the median household income increased only by around $ 1,000.
years of experience now running Sentier Research, a non-partisan research group. Sentier analyzes the Census Bureau's monthly current population survey to calculate the most up-to-date changes in median household income, which it publishes six months to a year ahead of the official year. Sentier's prior estimates are imperfect and will certainly be revised, but in general they have been a reliable leading indicator. (The big increase Sentier reports does not account for the impact of the 2017 tax cut, which saved the average household $ 1400 in 2018, according to my colleagues at the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis. For married couples with two children, the figure was more than $ 2,900.)
Sentier's data fields with other economic trends. That explains why consumer spending has risen this year, and major retailers like Lowe's and Target are reporting huge sales. The White House financial adviser
was right when he said last month that families spend and save more because of fatter paychecks at the same time.
Sentier's income data is from 2000 and tells the story of the last two decades. The recession of 2008-09 shattered middle-class revenues so dramatically that the median income when Obama left office was no higher than it was then.
George W. Bush
arrived. It was the middle class class and the blue collar
Mr. Obama inherited a financial mess, but median income continued its decline for almost its entire first period, rising only slowly in its second period – the weakest recovery from a recession since the 1930s. "We never saw an improvement where earnings took so long to recover the lost ground," said the Sentier founder
Now a warning: A prolonged economic downturn or recession may reverse Trump's progress in jobs and earnings. The trade war imposes a heavy toll. But for now, the median family is enjoying their fattest paycheck ever. The middle class not only shrinks, it gets richer.
Mr. Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and co-author, along with
of “Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy.”
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