Aug. 09, 2018
Best of the States
Jobs boom favors Democratic counties over Trump strongholds; social issues motivate GOP base
President Donald Trump has long asserted that his tax cuts and other policies would accelerate job growth, which, in turn, would serve the “forgotten” men and women who had helped propel him to the White House in the 2016 election.
Washington, D.C.-based economics reporter Josh Boak wondered: Had that actually occurred so far? And how much was job growth a motivating force for Trump supporters?
Boak hit on a possible way to hold the president’s claims to a fair test. He turned to a relatively obscure report issued by the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, then merged those economic figures with the AP’s 2016 election returns, broken down by county.
The result, under multiple calculations, was clear: The bulk of U.S. hiring under Trump had so far occurred in Democratic counties.
Boak then spent three days in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, an area that had voted decisively for Trump and had lost jobs in the past 12 months. He reported that Republican voters appeared to be motivated more by social issues – opposition to gun control, for example. “Our No. 1 motivating factor,” the county Republican chairman told Boak, “is Second Amendment issues.”
For exclusively documenting how job growth under Trump has disproportionately underserved his geographic base and for illustrating that trend in a community that reflects it, Boak earns this week’s Best of the States award.