Americans are coming out of not just unemployment, but from out of the labor force entirely at a rate higher under President Donald Trump than under the previous administration, according to a Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) report out Tuesday.
CEA Member Rich Burkhauser focused in on a surge in blue-collar employment during a Tuesday briefing. He pointed to trends in manufacturing and more specifically durable goods manufacturing numbers: “from ’13 to November of 2016, we find that by February of 2019, we’re at 301,000 jobs above trend in durable goods manufacturing, which is steel machinery, computers, autos, which are the heart of blue-collar employment.”
He further addressed potential questions as to whether this leads to running out of workers, then countered, “If you look at where workers are coming from…you can tell whether workers are just simply continuing their work or whether they’re coming from the unemployed; whether they’re coming from out of the labor force.”
“In 2018, there was an influx of workers coming off the sideline,” said Burkhauser. “Over the period since the beginning of the Trump administration, 71 percent of people coming into employment are coming from out of the labor force versus coming from unemployment. And that’s above the second term of the Obama administration, where it was 66.5 percent, and the first term, where it was 63 percent.”
“This suggests that there is plenty of jobs, plenty of workers on the sidelines able to come off,” Burkhauser explained.
“The other good news that’s moving them off the sidelines is that nominal wages grew by 3.4 percent over the last 12 months, and that’s the fastest pace since 2009 and the seventh straight month above three percent,” he added to the positive news. “In 2018, the lowest wage earners saw the fastest growth, well above the median.”
CEA Chairman Kevin Hassett affirmed Burkhauser, adding, “We have a big extension of our earlier work on official measures of poverty, and, you know, what they include and don’t include and how it could be measured better.”
The new CEA report includes a section on this.
“I think that the headline from that poverty chapter is that, if you include transfer programs and the safety net programs, that poverty has actually dropped significantly since President Johnson declared the war on poverty, and that we need to think about what the next war on poverty would be,” said Hassett. “And we argue that it needs to be a war for self-sufficiency.”