May 7, 2019 - Economy

Trump country's precarious gains

Trump country is winning again, "at least for now," according to a new Brookings Institution report that shows counties that voted for Donald Trump are adding jobs at a faster rate than Clinton counties.

Adapted from a Brookings analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: "The 490 counties that voted for Clinton continue to massively predominate in the sheer volume and productivity of their economic activity. Together they accounted for two-thirds of the nation’s employment growth and three-quarters of its GDP growth.

  • "But during the first 21 months of the Trump administration, as people and jobs once again begin to spread out and sprawl, job growth rates in the 2,622 Trump-voting counties have gone from lagging behind those in Clinton counties to outpacing them."

The other side: "That growth hasn’t translated into pay gains," Bloomberg notes.

  • "After inflation, average weekly earnings in Trump country fell at a 0.3 percent annual rate, down from 0.6 percent growth in Obama’s final years."
  • "Workers in Democratic-leaning areas did better, with pay rising at a 0.1 percent rate, down from 0.9 percent annual gains during Obama’s last two years. Still, national data point to stronger wage gains under Trump beyond 2018."

The bottom line: Rural, red America's big picture issues — population loss, brain drain and economic reliance on commodities — are still here, waiting for the next recession to poke back up.

  • The Trump trade war threatens agriculture, rural areas and related sectors. [Map]
  • A downturn or recession would hammer sectors such as construction and fossil fuel extraction.
  • Robots are coming for the jobs thriving in Trump country. [Chart]

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