Oct 28, 2020 - Economy

The Rust Belt jobs boom that never came under Trump

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The Rust Belt, the upper Midwest manufacturing hub that was the backbone of U.S. production, has seen jobs and wages erode under President Trump, new data shows — and the decline happened before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

What it means: "While job and wage growth continued nationally under Trump, extending trends that took root under President Obama, the country’s economic weight also continued shifting south and west, according to data from the U.S. Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages that was recently updated to include the first three months of 2020," Reuters' Howard Schneider writes.

  • "Across the industrial belt from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania, private job growth from the first three months of 2017 through the first three months of 2020 lagged the rest of the country — with employment in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio growing 2% or less over that time compared to a 4.5% national average, according to QCEW data analyzed by Reuters."
  • "Texas and California saw job growth of more than 6% from 2017 through the start of 2020, by contrast, while Idaho led the nation with employment growing more than 10%."

A separate study by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) analyzing economic well-being in five Midwestern swing states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio) found...

  • Among the counties that flipped from voting for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 to voting for Donald Trump in 2016, 61% are in relative economic decline.
  • Nearly all the rest are continuing economic gains that have been in place since 2000.

While the five states "are geographically close and culturally similar, they diverge sharply when it comes to economic well-being, with Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa being more affluent than Michigan and Ohio," EIG notes.

  • In four of the five states, counties that flipped were more likely to experience job growth than the typical county nationally from 2014 to 2018, but that trend reversed in 2018.
  • From the first quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2020, far fewer flipped counties added jobs than did so nationally across all the region’s swing states except Minnesota.
  • In Iowa, four out of five lost jobs, compared to under half nationally.
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