One of the most common claims made this past year about President Trump’s favored economic policies is that many of their biggest victims have been or will be Trump voters. See here, here, and here for just a few examples.
So it’s more than a little bit interesting that the U.S. Commerce Department on Thursday released some data bearing on the issue, and they represent considerable evidence that exactly the opposite has been the case.
The data come in the form of the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ (BEA) new figures on the annual growth of personal income by state in 2017. Combined with BEA’s numbers for the last pre-Trump year (2016), they show that 2017 was a considerably more prosperous year for the populations of the states that voted for the President than 2016 was.
According to the BEA, average personal income for all states rose by 3.1 percent in pre-inflation terms between 2016 and 2017 – a much faster pace than the 2.3 percent improvement for 2015-16. But most of the 30 states that awarded their electoral votes to candidate Trump, fared much better than that. Twenty three of them saw their state-wide personal incomes rise faster in 2017 than in 2016. Moreover, the income growth slowdown in the Trump states was minor except in Iowa (from one percent to 0.3 percent), Tennessee (from 3.7 percent to 3.2 percent), and Utah (from 5.2 percent to 4.4 percent). And obviously, Tennessee and Utah still performed better than the national average. (Maine split its electoral votes in 2016, and saw its income growth slow slightly as well.)
Another sign that 2017 worked out well economically for the Trump states. Nine of the 30 saw their incomes rise at a faster pace than the 3.1 percent national average, and Texas matched that average. In 2016, eleven saw faster-than-average income growth – but overall national income growth was a good deal slower.
And P.S. – if you adjust for population growth, and measure state income growth per capita, you get virtually the same results.
Of course, these state-wide averages can mask major inequality within states. Also, let’s not fall into the trap of crediting a President with all the good news made by the economy, and blaming him (or her) for all the bad news. In addition, the full impact of Trump policy changes can’t possibly have been felt so far. And partly as a result, “past performance doesn’t guarantee future results.”
But the BEA statistics so far suggest that Trump voters have gotten a pretty good deal so far from their 2016 political choice. Time for lots of the chattering classes at least to modify their narratives?