Trump Set to Deliver State of the Union
WASHINGTON (AP) — A by-the-numbers look at President Donald Trump’s first year in office reveals areas of both progress and peril.
The stock market is soaring, smashing record after record. The unemployment rate has ticked downward. Some categories of violent crime are down, too.
But more U.S. troops are stationed in war zones. More people are dying of drug overdoses. More people think race relations have gotten worse under Trump.
A statistical deep dive into the state of the union before Trump offers his own assessment tonight:
As of Monday’s close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 45 percent since Trump was elected and 34 percent since he took office. The Dow closed at 18,332.74 on Election Day and 19,827.25 on Inauguration Day.
The S&P 500, the market gauge that professionals attach more weight to, performed about the same: It’s up 33 percent since the election and 26 percent since the inauguration. Trump said at an economic conference in Switzerland last week that the market “is smashing one record after another,” adding more than $7 trillion in new wealth since his election. Left unsaid is that the market has done much better than experts initially anticipated because the U.S. economy has continued to gain strength. The rest of the world economy has also exceeded performance expectations.
Progress reducing the number of Americans without health insurance stalled toward the end of President Barack Obama’s term, and it may have slipped into reverse under Trump, according to one major survey.
The Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index finds that the number of uninsured adults increased by about 3 million in 2017.
Early statistics released by the FBI last week show declines in some violent crimes and increases in one category for the first six months of 2017, compared with the same period in 2016.
Murder and manslaughter increased 1.5 percent in the first six months of 2017 over the first six months of 2016. The number of rapes decreased 2.4 percent, robbery offenses fell 2.2 percent and aggravated assaults were down 0.1 percent, according to the bureau.
401(K) RETIREMENT PLANS
The amount of money being squirreled away in 401(k) and IRA plans has increased 10 percent in the past year, aided by that strong stock performance, according to the financial firm Fidelity Investments. Trump has said people often approach him to thank him for the boom in their retirement nest eggs. The average 401(k) balance was $99,000 in the third quarter of 2017, up 10 percent from the average $90,900 balance in the same July-August-September period of 2016.
Trump has expanded America’s war-footing, both in the number of troops deployed to war zones and in their ability to conduct offensive operations.
As his term wrapped up, President Barack Obama was withdrawing forces from Afghanistan as he eyed an end to the war. In a reversal, Trump has approved sending in more troops and giving them greater authority to go after members of the Taliban and other insurgent groups.
U.S. forces in Afghanistan currently number around 14,000.
More people are working or actively seeking employment. The unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in January 2017, the month Trump was sworn into office, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate has fallen steadily since then to 4.1 percent in October, where it remained through December, continuing a trend of falling unemployment that began under Obama. Obama took office at the depths of the Great Recession, when the economy was shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs every month.
More people think race relations have worsened since Trump’s election in November 2016. Back then, 25 percent of those surveyed by the Pew Research Center expressed optimism that having the politically inexperienced New York businessman in the Oval Office would improve relations between the races. By December 2017, the percentage who felt that way had sunk to 8 percent, according to Pew. Forty-six percent in the November 2016 survey said Trump’s election would worsen relations.
In Trump’s first year in office, the national debt grew by $546.4 billion. In 2016, Obama’s final year, the national debt grew by $1.01 trillion. The debt would have grown more in 2017 if not for the fact that the Trump administration is constrained by reaching the debt ceiling of $20.5 trillion.
Trump made America’s trade deficits with China and other countries a central tenet of his campaign, vowing to move toward trade that he deems fair and reciprocal to protect the U.S. from being taken advantage of financially. Within days of taking office in 2017, Trump pulled the U.S. out of a sweeping trade pact with 11 Pacific Rim nations. He is renegotiating NAFTA, a decades-old agreement with Canada and Mexico, as well as a separate, bilateral trade pact with South Korea.
Drug overdose deaths have continued to climb. Provisional data through June 2017 show a 16 percent increase over the previous 12-month period, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with nearly 67,000 deaths from July 2016 to June 2017. Opioids account for about two-thirds of overdose deaths.
For the first time, the powerful painkiller fentanyl and its close chemical cousins played a bigger role in deaths in 2016 than any other legal or illegal drug, surpassing other opioids like prescription pain pills and heroin. In December, the CDC said drug overdose deaths had for a second straight year cut into how long Americans are expected to live.
If the Trump administration made any progress on this front, it was mostly in public awareness. A presidential task force, a White House speech and the declaration of a public health emergency shined a spotlight on the number of overdose deaths, but critics say Trump’s gestures are mostly symbolic without new funding from Congress.
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy remains without a permanent director after Trump’s first pick withdrew.