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Booming: Jobless Claims Hit Lowest Level Since the Nixon Administration

Tax reform may not be generating the drumbeat of positive headlines that it once was, but the progress and successes it has created continue to pile up.  Walgreens has affirmed a $100 million investment in raising employees' wages thanks to the GOP-passed law, as McDonald's unveils new education benefits, also to the tune of nine figures, for its workers.  Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan is touting the decision of a smaller Maryland-based company that he visited last fall to offer tax reform bonuses of up to $1,000.  More than four million US workers have received such bonuses from their employers thus far, in addition to the rollout of other enhanced worker benefits and major investments from coast to coast.  Oh, and the overwhelming majority of all taxpayers are receiving a tax cut because of the law, much to the surprise of many who bought into critics' false rhetoric and absurd predictions.  Tax reform has become popular because Americans' realities have far exceeded Democratic doomsaying.  Economist Brian Riedl underscores this disconnect:


[The Left's] torrent of propaganda is partly why the tax bill was so unpopular as it was being debated: At the time of passage, just 37 percent of Americans supported the cuts, versus 57 percent opposed. How could a tax cut be less popular than previous tax increases? Because by a 2-to-1 ratio, Americans believed their taxes were going to go up as a result of the bill. But Republicans enacted the bill anyway and the dishonest spin got steamrolled by reality. Millions of Americans received modest raises and bonuses that were attributed to the TCJA. Online calculators showed families that—surprise!—their taxes were falling, not rising. Today a slight majority of Americans support the TCJA. And the law enjoys more than 75 percent support from those who expect to personally benefit, which means its overall popularity should grow as the benefits are more broadly realized.

Meanwhile, as conservatives argued would happen, the economy is growing and thriving.  A somewhat underwhelming Q4 GDP estimate has been revised upward, and on the jobs front, it's hard to argue with these results:

The rate of layoffs in the U.S. fell again in late March and dropped to the lowest level since 1973. Initial U.S. jobless claims declined by 12,000 to 215,000 in the seven days ended March 24, the government said Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast claims to total 230,000. The more stable monthly average of claims dipped by 500 to 224,500...The revisions erased the previous low in jobless claims, a reading of 210,000 last month that would have been the lowest since 1969. But no matter. Layoffs in the U.S. is extremely low, as reflected by a 4.1% unemployment rate that is the smallest in 17 years...The labor market is so strong that it’s even drawing back in people who’ve been out of the workforce for years. And it doesn’t show any sign of letting up. The economy added 313,000 new jobs in February and economists predict another solid gain of around 200,000 in March.


What a paragraph. Feel free to re-read it, and to peruse the February jobs report in anticipation of tomorrow.  I should add that it's undoubtedly true that strong momentum is not guaranteed to continue, especially if foolish policies throw a wet blanket onto the economy, or if Democrats regain power and start to roll back the progress every last one of them opposed.  Yes, Republicans appear to be gaining the 2018 generic ballot, with another new data point confirming that trend.  But as I've argued, there are a lot of factors cutting against the GOP this year, and the scatterplot of actual electoral results in the Trump era cannot be wished away.  That said, there's a reason why the president's popularity on the economy far outstrips his personal favorability.  The country is doing well, and he and his party deserve a good amount of the credit.  Whether those outcomes and the resulting optimism end up benefitting them at the polls this fall remains to be seen. I'll leave you with this:

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