When Trump rattled off a series of economic successes in his State of the Union, he could have added one more. The public's quality of life has improved sharply in the past two years.
"We have created 5.3 million new jobs and, importantly, added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs," Trump said at one point in this address. "Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades ... . Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded. Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low."
Unemployment at historic lows? Wages climbing at a fast pace? Who knew? The news media, fixated on Trump scandals, hasn't exactly been broadcasting that good news. And media fact checkers busied themselves after the speech nitpicking Trump's economic boasts.
But the upbeat assessment clearly resonated with the public, most of whom gave Trump's speech top marks. Turns out they have been firsthand witnesses to the strength of the economy over the past two years.
How do we know? Look at the IBD/TIPP Quality of Life Index, which asks the public whether they think their quality of life will be better, worse or the same over the next six months.
In the 17 years IBD has been compiling this index, it's averaged 56.2. Under President Obama, it averaged just 53.7. Even if you only include Obama's second term, it was well below the 17-year average.
Under Trump? The Quality of Life Index has averaged 59.3. That's a 10% increase over the average during the Obama years.
To be sure, there's a partisan element to this. Republicans tend to rate their quality of life higher than Democrats when there's a Republican in the White House, and vice versa. But look at independents: Their quality of life averaged 52 under Obama. It's averaging 58.8 under Trump — a 13% bump.
What' more, the gains are across the board. Households making from $35,000 to $50,000, for example, saw an 8% gain in this index when you compare Trump to Obama. Those making from $50,000 to $75,000, an 11% gain.
We see the same phenomenon with the IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index, which has been in positive territory — over 50 — since Trump's been president. It averaged only 46.8 under Obama.
The public is clearly giving Trump credit for the turnaround. While his overall approval ratings hover around 40%, he regularly gets much higher marks for his handling of the economy in the IBD/TIPP poll.
Our guess is that if the press were to let up even a little on the 24/7 criticism of Trump, and spend some time reporting on what's happening in the economy, Trump would get higher ratings on both measures.
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