- Trump ushered in the Republican National Convention with effusive praise for his economic record.
- “There’s never been three months when we’ve put more people to work. We’re just about ready to break the all-time stock market record,” Trump said at the RNC.
- But four economic statistics illustrate an increasing level of hardship among many Americans that sharply diverges from the president’s version of events.
- Millions of Americans are unemployed and a growing share say they didn’t eat enough. Many also face the prospect of evictions.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump kicked off the Republican National Convention on Monday with a familiar theme: He’s steering the economy to unprecedented heights, even amid the devastation inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We just broke a record on jobs, an all-time record,” he said. “There’s never been three months when we’ve put more people to work. We’re just about ready to break the all-time stock market record.”
Trump’s claim that he ushered in record job growth in the spring echoes one made by Vice President Mike Pence over a week ago. Experts were quick to point out at the time that Pence’s remarks had cherry-picked the economic data to cast the Trump administration’s management of the economy in a more favorable light.
But those distortions aside, Trump’s comments obscure the dire reality for millions of Americans, particularly those on the lower end of the income spectrum.
Four jarring statistics illustrate the divide between the president’s version of events and an economic downturn that could still worsen in the coming months:
- Many Americans are still out of work: Over 28 million people are collecting unemployment benefits and the number of claims ticked up on Thursday to 1.1 million after dropping for two consecutive weeks.
- More people report going hungry: Around 29 million adults (12.1% of all US adults) reported their households sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the past week, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. It’s as of July 21, the latest figures available.
- Renters are coming up against the threat of evictions: Around 15 million renters are falling behind on their rent payments, the CBPP analysis said. The rates are almost double for both Black and Latino renters compared to white ones.
- Most furloughed workers believe they’ve permanently lost their jobs: A growing share of workers temporarily laid off due to the pandemic say they’re either not expecting to return or are definitely not returning to their past jobs, according to a Goldman Sachs analysis.
The Internal Revenue Service also projected on Thursday there would be 37.2 million fewer jobs in 2021 due to the pandemic.
The economic recovery is stagnant at best, experts say, as federal stimulus dollars that propped up the economy through the spring and summer vanish without anything to take their place. Negotiations over another stimulus package between the White House and top congressional Democrats stalled earlier this month due to fierce disagreements on spending.
Jason Furman, a former top economist to President Barack Obama, warned that the absence of further federal intervention would cause many people’s incomes to collapse and elevate the unemployment rate. It stands at 10.2%, higher than any point during the Great Recession over a decade ago.
“If there is no package to replace the CARES Act, tens of millions of people will suffer quite a lot from lack of income, inability to pay rent and mortgages and the like,” Furman told Business Insider last week. “Ultimately, the economy will suffer too in the form of lower economic growth and higher unemployment.”
Meanwhile, the stock market has surged ahead to record highs despite the weakened economy. Just around half of Americans own any stock, and the vast majority of shares are owned by the top 10% of households.
Polling on the economy, however, shows that it remains one of Trump’s strengths among voters, The New York Times reported. Whether a majority of Americans approve of the president’s handling of the economy during the pandemic could decide if he remains in the White House another four years.
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