As the United States suffers the worst economic downturn in nearly a century, a key question remains: How quickly can the nation recover, and who has the better track record to get us there?
The dire job losses from the spring are close to half recovered, but 13.6 million workers remain unemployed. Stocks are back near record highs, but food bank lines are long and evictions in parts of the country are growing.
The 2020 presidential election will be, at least partly, about the economy. President Trump argues the economy was soaring pre-pandemic and he can bring it back again, while former vice president Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, argues the nation wouldn’t be in such bad shape if Trump hadn’t fumbled the handling of the pandemic. Biden says he can get people working again and points to the Obama administration’s track record after the Great Recession. Trump portrays the Obama era as sluggish.
Perhaps the best case Trump can make for improvement since he took office is higher wages and a boost in confidence. The average worker’s pay finally grew more than 3 percent a year under Trump, and there was a drop in the number of Americans on food stamps. Consumer and business confidence also jumped after Trump’s election and remained high after the GOP tax cuts took effect in 2018. As recently as February, many Americans rated this as the best economy since the late 1990s. Now those gains are wiped out.
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