President Donald Trump has repeatedly railed about the loss of American manufacturing jobs. Yet, a surge in manufacturing employment is one of the bright spots in the economy right now — and it has helped boost Trump’s grade on Yahoo Finance’s exclusive Trumponomics Report Card.
We now give the Trump economy a grade of A-, two notches higher than when we launched the report card in May. Since we issued our first grade — a B — the economy has improved in three significant ways: manufacturing employment has risen, exports have gotten stronger and the stock market has continued its upward ascent.
Our Trumponomics Report Card, calculated with data provided by Moody’s Analytics, grades the Trump economy by comparing it with the economy under six prior presidents, going back to Jimmy Carter, at the same point in their first term. Here’s how Trump stacks up nearly eight months into his presidency:
It’s important to emphasize what we are measuring, and what we are not: We’re tracking the economy’s performance under Trump, but we are not evaluating the effectiveness of particular Trump policies, or saying the economy’s performance is a direct result of anything Trump has done. Economic trends develop over years, and the president often has less power over the economy than many people think. Trump inherited an improving economy and to some extent is a beneficiary of lucky timing.
Trump is getting what he wants
Still, Trump has bashed companies moving jobs overseas and praised those creating more U.S. jobs, which could be having some effect on where companies decide to invest and open new facilities. Whatever the cause, Trump is getting what he demanded — more manufacturing jobs.
The latest employment report showed that employers created 156,000 new jobs in August — a relatively disappointing number. But that included 36,000 new manufacturing jobs, the biggest gain in four years. And manufacturing output, adjusted for inflation, is at record highs. American companies are producing more with less, while also hiring more.
Most economists think growth ought to continue, since profits are strong, inflation is subdued and there are no obvious problems. The biggest risks to the economy may emanate from Trump himself. He has threatened new trade restrictions and lower limits on immigration, which could constrain growth rather than spark it. And upcoming battles over funding the government and raising its borrowing limit will spook financial markets if brinkmanship goes too far. Maybe the best thing policymakers can do for the economy is leave it alone.
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Rick Newman is the author of four books, including Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman