By Howard Schneider
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is in its 11th year of a record-setting economic expansion, a fact that President Donald Trump highlighted in his State of the Union speech to Congress on Tuesday.
With “The Great American Comeback” as its theme, Trump focused for much of the speech on the strength of the U.S. economy and achievements to support it, like a China trade deal and a new trade pact with Mexico and Canada.
“I am thrilled to report to you tonight that our economy is the best it has ever been,” Trump said.
There are some key measurements of the economy Trump did not cite.
As a candidate in 2016, Trump promised economic growth and job creation. (https://tmsnrt.rs/2P4ZAuG) His address to Congress focused on some indisputably positive outcomes in those areas.
The unemployment rate is at a 50-year low, for example, and wages are rising for lower-skilled jobs (https://tmsnrt.rs/37QkEKG).
(GRAPHIC: Trump’s Economy: The Good – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/editorcharts/USA-TRUMP-SOTU-ECONOMY1/0H001R88QBQ1/eikon.png)
For those heavily invested in the stock market, the bull market’s gains have been heady, although they mostly went to a small group of Americans at the top of the economy.
Things are not all rosy (https://tmsnrt.rs/3b9ZgSz). Overall economic growth is sluggish compared with historical averages.
The administration’s trade wars unleashed uncertainty and slowed global economies around the world, but they have not put an obvious dent in U.S. trade deficits – something Trump said he would eliminate.
(GRAPHIC: Trump’s Economy: The Mediocre – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/editorcharts/USA-TRUMP-SOTU-ECONOMY2/0H001R88SBQ7/eikon.png)
There has been no sign that productivity or business investment is surging, something administration officials pledged would flow from a large corporate tax cut.
What the tax cut did instead was fuel a return to record deficits [https://tmsnrt.rs/2vMrwL2].
(GRAPHIC: Trump’s Economy: The Bad – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/editorcharts/USA-TRUMP-SOTU-ECONOMY3/0H001R88VBQE/eikon.png)
(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Peter Cooney)