Obama has unarguably overseen a remarkable turnaround in the jobs market. The unemployment rate is now half the 10% peak it hit at the height of the recession. The president defended his economic legacy last week in a 6,000 word feature in the New York Times. Americans would “be much worse off had we not taken the steps that we took”, he said.
But with paychecks remaining disappointingly small and layoffs reaching a seven-year high, many have subscribed to Trump’s narrative instead the one presented by Obama’s administration. It’s a horror story about an American economy in terminal decline, its workers sold down the river to China and Mexico.
“People don’t really want to hear that it could have been worse. Sometimes such statements anger people and make the president seem out of touch. It doesn’t resonate because they can’t observe that alternative outcome,” explained Lawrence Mishel, president at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. “It’s progress in their weekly paychecks that resonates.”