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Michael Swartz / Sep. 18, 2020

A Historic Bump in Median Income

The media doesn't want you to hear about this week's good economic news.

This week, we learned from government data that Americans in 2019 saw their largest percentage increase in median income in history. This news is somehow encouraging and depressing at the same time, given more recent events.

Yet despite the fact that most of those income gains went right out the window during our Wuhan coronavirus lockdowns, there are two compelling insights we can use to illustrate the effect of the news. First, writing at the Democrat house organ known as USA Today, business reporter Paul Davidson led off his story by trumpeting, “Americans’ incomes rose sharply last year and fewer people were living in poverty” before complaining in the very same breath, “but a growing number went without health insurance for the second straight year.”

Rather than hide light under a bushel, though, here in our humble shop we’ll talk about what went right. If you were an American, chances are your income grew last year as more people went to work even as the job market was still thirsty for labor. More than four million of us lifted ourselves above the poverty line, leaving just 34 million Americans at that level. (And remember: Poverty in our eyes is akin to living like a king in many other parts of the world not blessed by a capitalist, mostly free entrepreneurial economy.) Shrinking the unemployment rate down to 3.5% before the pandemic meant more people were participating in the consumer market because they had more money to spend. (And all this while inflation was kept in check.)

Davidson also set out to find a left-leaning “expert,” Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute, who grudgingly pointed out that while we made “a step in the right direction, many families have just barely made up for lost ground from the Great Recession.” So imagine where we’d be if the prosperity of the last three-plus years before the coronavirus had never happened under a Hillary Clinton administration. Some folks are just never happy.

On the other hand, when we place the gains in context, as the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal did, we find that the Trump presidency has been one of economic progress despite the China-induced headwinds of trade wars and viruses that have buffeted it for most of the last two years. One nugget of wisdom: “The decline in childhood poverty last year was nearly twice as much as during the entire Obama Presidency.” Twisting the knife, the Journal adds, “The most pro-family policies are those that increase jobs and wages.”

And if you needed a quick primer on the effects of getting government out of the way and allowing folks to keep more of their own money, it comes in these two paragraphs:

Business investment and hiring increased amid the Trump Administration’s deregulation and the GOP’s 2017 tax reform that unleashed animal spirits. New business applications increased twice as much during the first two years of the Trump Presidency versus the last two Obama years, other Census data show.

Employers competed for workers by increasing wages and digging deeper into applicant pools by hiring folks with disabilities, less education and even criminal records. Rising economic growth lifted all classes. The record of his first three years are why voters still give President Trump an edge over Joe Biden on the economy.“

While the economic damage done by the pandemic panic has been deep and lasting, keep in mind that several of our largest (and Democrat-controlled) states — such as California and New York — are lockdown holdouts despite the courts beginning to rule they’ve gone too far.

It’s no wonder that Trump-hating mainstream media outlets are trying to bury or temper this positive economic news. They know it’s still the economy, stupid, and they know it portends four more years of a Trump presidency.

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