After his Super Tuesday victories, his opponents in the Republican party and in the conservative movement could have tried to derail the Donald Trump Express in one of two ways. They could have offered Trump supporters some serious substantive reasons for dumping the GOP presidential front runner. Or they could have dialed up the vitriol. Nothing could be more obvious than their choice of the latter.
Sadly, Trump has largely responded in kind. He’s continued his insult barrages against his rivals. And he’s refused to take steps that would indicate some realization that a successful president has to be more than a great sloganeer and marketer. In fact, although Trump has done somewhat better than his critics charge in issuing respectable policy plans – especially on immigration and trade – remarks throughout the campaign on H1B immigration visas and alleged labor shortages all over the economy strongly indicate substantial ignorance even on an issue that’s become a major trademark.
Even sadder, the degraded state to which American politics has been brought by its major actors (including relentlessly pandering Democrats) means that, whatever their apparent hopes, struggling working and middle-class voters have less reason than ever to expect any relief from Election 2016’s results.
Not so coincidentally, as the Trump Wars keep intensifying, the U.S. jobs report issued yesterday by the Labor Department vividly reminds how completely the bipartisan American political and business establishments have failed their fellow citizens.
This power structure – and its media mouthpieces – have concluded that the net employment growth of 242,000 in February added to the evidence that the economy is performing adequately, if not swimmingly. I analyzed the manufacturing numbers yesterday – they were miserable. But the rest of the new data were hardly better.
Nearly 42 percent of the new employment created on month came in low-wage sectors, like retail trade, leisure and hospitality, and administrative and support jobs (a category that includes clerical office workers and janitors). Whereas the typical private sector job in America now pays an inflation-adjusted wage of $10.66 per hour, these positions now pay $7.45, $6.14, and $7.93 respectively. Currently, they account for 27.77 percent of the total non-farm workforce (the Labor Department’s American employment universe), and 32.81 percent of all private sector employees.
Worse, the ranks of these workers are growing faster than the labor force as a whole. When the last recession began, at the end of 2007, they represented 26.81 percent of all non-farm workers and 31.98 percent those employed by the private sector.
And their wages are going (nearly) nowhere fast. In inflation-adjusted terms, since the recession onset – more than nine years ago – private sector employees as a whole have seen their hourly wages rise by 6.39 percent. The “raise” received by their retail counterparts during this period has been 4.34 percent. Real wages have risen only 1.99 percent for employees in the leisure and hospitality industries, and by an even more meager 1.53 percent for administrative and support workers.
Moreover, if you think these Americans have done significantly better since employment nation-wide bottomed, in February, 2010, don’t. In fact, since then, administrative and support workers have suffered a 1.98 percent real wage decline.
Mainstream Republicans still evidently believe that these voters can be sold on their standard recipe of tax and regulatory cuts, more job- and wage-killing trade deals, and a new wrinkle – candidates who have voiced critical views of mass immigration schemes, but whose records on this front are checkered at best.
Both remaining Democratic hopefuls are promising new approaches to trade, but Hillary Clinton’s credibility here is understandably suspect. At the same time, both are all-in on amnesty and the even stronger immigration magnet that will be created. And they apparently believe that minimum wage hikes, and more government spending – in the form of “investments” in job-creating programs and transfer payments for those still left behind – will keep living standards at acceptable levels.
Trump voters – who potentially include lots of Democrats – clearly don’t believe any of these claims. If mainstream politicians really want to repel the threat to America’s future they claim the Trump-ites’ champion poses, policy clueless-ness – which seems increasingly willful – in the face of continued economic deterioration isn’t going to cut it.