In January 2017, shortly after President Donald Trump took office and almost immediately following his inauguration, millions of women participated in marches (many organized by Planned Parenthood) in cities across the country to express their firmly held belief that this new administration was the enemy of women.
Progressive activist organization American Progress even published an issue brief titled, “100 Days, 100 Ways The Trump Administration Is Harming Women And Families” that contained this paragraph:
This renewed activism comes at a critical time. Nearly 100 days into the Trump administration, there has been little talk of concrete policy actions that will help women and families. Despite repeated promises that President Trump and his administration would invest in and empower women, President Trump’s actions have made it clear that he and his team are completely out of touch with the needs of today’s working families.
A year later, in January 2018, following the advent of the #MeToo movement a representative of NARAL Pro-Choice America told The Guardian that the administration was, indeed, the nadir of when it came to women’s rights and concerns, particularly abortion.
“This administration is the worst we’ve ever seen for women and families,” said Kaylie Hanson Long, a spokeswoman for Naral Pro-Choice America, a pro-choice advocacy group.
“Its attacks on reproductive freedom are relentless, under the radar and aren’t supported by the majority of Americans who believe abortion should remain legal.”
While there’s no doubt the Trump administration has its sights set on rolling back the flagrantly disturbing rate of abortion in the U.S. — even issuing a rule in February 2019 that revamped Title X and effectively stripped Planned Parenthood of millions in federal funding — the notion the administration is disastrous for women and families is increasingly fallacious. The economic numbers for women, in fact, couldn’t be more encouraging.
According to the Job Creators Network Foundation (JCNF), a small business advocacy group supportive of Trump administration policies such as the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, women are actually thriving in the Trump economy. Some of their data is astonishing when it comes to the economic strides of women since 2014.
- From 2014-2019, women-owned businesses grew by 21 percent (compared to 9 percent for all firms), employment of women-owned firms increased by 8 percent (compared to 1.8 percent for all firms).
- 42 percent of businesses in the United States are now women-owned, up 2% from 2018. In 1972, women only owned 4.6 percent of businesses.
- Women, Minority-owned businesses saw a 42.8 percent increase in number of firms from 2014 to 2019; revenue during the same time increased by 38.5 percent; employment increased by 29.8 percent.
- Women “sidepreneurs” (or part-time entrepreneurs) grew by 32 percent from 2014 to 2019, while all entrepreneurs only grew by 9 percent.
JCNF President Elaine Parker said that people may not always agree with how President Trump says things, and that this may be a reason many women were initially thrown by his administration, but there’s no denying that women are benefitting economically in the almost four years since he took office.
“When you look at the number of new businesses, the rate of unemployment, the revenue generated from women entrepreneurs, the number of women re-entering the workforce, almost every economic measure,” Parker said. “Women are flourishing.”
Parker pointed to two policy changes she thinks have made the most difference for women: the push for deregulation in the early days of the Trump presidency and the Tax Cut and Jobs Act doubling the child tax credit.
The combination of the looser regulatory regime and more money “back in the pockets” of all Americans thanks to the tax cuts — particularly women who saw a $2000 tax savings per child, with $1400 of that amount refundable — gave women the freedom to take risks and explore entrepreneurship, something it turns out they may be better suited for than their male counterparts.
“The Kaufman Foundation released a study that showed that women are about half as likely as men to start a business,” Parker said. “ but also that they are more prudent risk takers and maybe better entrepreneurs.”
The Trump economy capitalizes on that datapoint, she said.
Rose Morris, who started her company Abram’s Nation 10 years ago, has seen positive changes in her economic outlook but is still waiting for her home state of Pennsylvania to adopt some of the health care guidelines coming out of the Trump administration.
Morris, who developed a “safety sleeper” for her toddler son who fell on the autism spectrum, began marketing her company out of a desire “to help people and save lives” for everyone between “autism and Alzheimer’s,” she said.
“I remember after the Tax Cut Act we actually got money back and I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’" she laughed. “We went from barely being crushed the year before to using that refund to fix an HVAC unit in our new building. It was great.”
However, she said, while she thinks much has been accomplished in the last few years that makes small business ownership a more attractive option, she said that states need to make sure they’re availing themselves of some of the new regulatory freedoms made available under the Trump administration such as the option to offer association health care plans.
“I am still trying to figure out how to pay for health insurance for my employees, and I know that option exists if the state wants to take it,” Morris said.
Despite the lingering challenges, Morris said she agrees with Parker: the Trump economy has been good for women.
“I hear overwhelmingly now from other women that they have access to things — tax credits, programs — that they never had before,” she said.
Sarah Lee is a freelance writer and policy wonk living and working in Washington, DC.