The past week saw more signs that the growing economy is benefiting middle class households, including another jump in household income. Not that you'd know it from the coverage, which is wall-to-wall Brett Kavanaugh.
The Labor Department's weekly initial unemployment insurance claims number released last Thursday was an "unexpectedly" low 201,000. That's the lowest this figure has been in nearly 50 years and suggests that the job market continues to thrive.
Meanwhile, the Conference Board reported Tuesday that the Consumer Confidence Index "unexpectedly" rose to 138.4, the highest it's been since 2000. This is a 9% gain so far this year, and a 24% increase in this index since January 2017.
The Conference Board's Lynn Franco said that "These historically high confidence levels should continue to support healthy consumer spending, and should be welcome news for retailers as they begin gearing up for the holiday season."
Household Income Continues To Climb
Then there's the median household income index compiled monthly by Sentier Research. It climbed again in August to $62,685. That's up 2.8% from August 2017, and a gain of 4.7% since President Trump took office. It's also now higher than any time since 2000, when Sentier started tracking this.
Lest anyone want to claim that all this is just a continuation of trends started under President Obama, the data simply do not support that claim.
From May 2015 to the end of 2016 the weekly initial jobless claim number had been relatively unchanged at around 260,000. It has clearly been trending downward over the past year. At the start of 2018, it stood at 250,000.
The Consumer Confidence Index rarely reached 100 during Obama's entire eight years in office. And during his last year in office it barely moved. The index only began its strong upward move after Trump took office. (The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index has been in optimistic territory even since Trump took office.)
And as for household income, the Sentier data show that median household income did not budge at all from August 2015 until January 2017. It has been steadily moving upward ever since.
All this adds still more substance to the fact that the economy is in the midst of a strong (and "unexpected") growth period. The Atlanta Fed's GDPNow number for the third quarter is currently at 4.4%, which, if it holds up, would be higher than the quarter before.
Not only that but, unlike under Obama, this growth is finally starting to generate real benefits for the middle class.
That might explain why, despite the incredible and unrelenting barrage of negative press thrown at them, the Republicans' approval rating is now the highest it's been in seven years, according to the Gallup tracking poll.
Gallup shows that 45% have a favorable view of the Republican Party, a nine-point gain over the previous month. Not only that, it's higher than the Democrats' (at 44%). This is the first time that's happened since 2014, the year the GOP regained control of the Senate. And the GOP's favorability rating is the highest since 2011, the year after Republicans took control of the House.
We'll have to wait to see if this is a one-time blip or a trend. And it's still likely that Democrats will take control of at least the House in the November midterms.
Even so, it's a sign that despite the media blackout of good economic news, the public knows what's going on. And they have an idea of why their fortunes have taken a turn for the better after eight years of Obama-induced stagnation.
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