Trump’s First 100 Days: Impact on Jobs and the Economy


April 25, 2017

Presidents are often judged by their first 100 days in office. While most analyses focus on bills and executive orders signed, our economists asked a different question: How have jobs and the economy fared during President Trump’s first 100 days?

We looked at two measures of nine economic indicators — a total of 18 measures — and how they’ve fared so far under Trump. Overall, 78 percent or 14 measures have improved during Trump’s first 100 days on the job, while 22 percent or 4 measures are worse or the same as a year ago. For example, consumer confidence and manufacturing job openings are up, while labor force participation and overall job creation are steady or down slightly.

Here’s a quick scorecard summarizing the economic indicators we looked at, and how they’ve fared during the first 100 days of Trump. (The details for each indicator are below.)

A Word of Caution

Before we look at the details behind Trump’s economic record so far, there are two important caveats to keep in mind.

First, the president isn’t responsible for most things that happen in the economy. There are many actors that are arguably more important including the Federal Reserve, state and local governments, large U.S. employers and banks, state and federal courts, and more. Presidents can’t really do much to change the 160-million-person labor market in 100 days, so most trends we highlight will just be a continuation of trends from 2016.

Second, the labor market is a lagging indicator of the economy. It moves very slowly in response to policy changes. While stock markets and consumer confidence are forward looking, the labor market indicators we look at are mostly backward looking. Thus, even if Trump policies during his first 100 days were having a powerful impact on labor markets, it’s probably still too early for any of those changes to show up in the data.

How We Measured Impact

There are many ways to look at how jobs and the economy have fared during Trump’s first 100 days. In this analysis we’ll use a simple approach. We’ll judge economic indicators in two ways. First, we’ll look at their level compared to the same period one year ago. Second, we’ll look at their trend: Whether they’re rising or falling on average compared to the past three months, both during Trump’s first 100 days and the same period one year ago.

For trends, we’re basically looking at looking at quarter-over-quarter changes. For example, if job growth averaged 178,000 during Trump’s first 100 days, but was only 148,000 during the previous three months, that’s a trend upward of 30,000 jobs. We then do the same calculation for one year ago, and compare it to today’s trend. For example, if job growth one year ago was 196,000, but was 277,000 during the previous three months, that’s a trend downward a year ago of -81,000 jobs. Comparing the two trends, today’s +30,000 trend is better than the -81,000 trend a year ago, so in this example, the trend in jobs is better under Trump.

This approach tells us two things. First, looking at levels tells us whether jobs and the economy are better today than they were a year ago. While certainly not all of these changes are due to the president, it’s a useful fact check against claims that we are better or worse off today under the Trump administration than we were during a similar period a year ago.

Second, looking at trends tells us whether the Trump administration is sending jobs and the economy in the right direction or not. The trend today compared to the trend a year ago gives a rough measure of whether the economy’s trajectory has really changed under Trump so far. If the President’s new policies are helping or hurting, the trend could be improving or deteriorating compared to a year ago.

Unfortunately, the full picture of jobs and the economy during Trump’s first 100 days won’t be available until long after his 100th day has passed. For example, we won’t have BLS numbers for April job creation and the unemployment rate until early May. As a result, in this analysis we’ll show the most current data that’s available as of Tuesday, April 18, which is 11 days before the end of Trump’s first 100 day period.  

Jobs and Hiring

Job creation: Depending on how you measure, there have been either two or three Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly jobs reports since Trump took office. BLS surveys are collected mid-month, while the president’s inauguration was January 20. Strictly speaking, there have only been two jobs reports under President Trump so far: February and March.

However, in our analysis we’ll include the January BLS report as well. Even though the survey was just before Trump formally took office, it was well after the November election and the president’s promises and public statements were already having a powerful psychological impact on markets. In this analysis, we’ll look at the January, February and March BLS jobs reports.

First, let’s look at job creation. The chart below shows monthly change in nonfarm payrolls, or new jobs added, since January 2015. There are two shaded areas: The “Trump” period from January through March 2017, and the “Year Ago” comparison period one year ago. The orange lines represent the average during the shaded time periods, while the green lines represent the average during the three-month time periods preceding the shaded periods. To compare levels in the chart, simply compare the height of the orange lines. To compare trends, simply look at the gap between the green and orange lines today versus a year ago.

Change in Nonfarm Payrolls

Source: BLS and Glassdoor Economic Research. Shaded areas represent the “Trump” period and the “Year Ago” comparison period for the same three months a year ago. The orange lines represent the average during the shaded time periods, while the green lines represent the average during the three-month time periods preceding the shaded periods.

During Trump’s first 100 days, the economy cranked out an average of 178,000 new jobs per month. That’s actually down slightly from the same period a year ago, when the economy created an average 196,000 jobs per month. These are marked by the orange lines in the figure.

This slowing pace of job growth is normal for an economy running near full employment, and probably has little to do with Trump policies. Also, the statistical confidence interval for nonfarm payroll growth is +/- 120,000 jobs, so this decline isn’t statistically significant. But nevertheless, in terms of levels, the data show Trump’s first 100 days slightly underperformed job creation compared to a year ago.

In terms of trends, however, overall job creation was up trending during Trump’s first 100 days compared to a year ago. During Trump’s first 100 days, average job gains were up 30,000 compared to the previous three months (the gap between the green and orange lines is +30,000 on the right side of the figure). By contrast, a year ago average job gains were actually falling, down 81,000 compared to the previous three months.

The verdict: Nonfarm payroll growth is down slightly in terms of the level during Trump’s first 100 days compared to a year ago, but is trending up. It’s normal for job growth to be slowing as the economy reaches full employment — overall, these are small changes, and job creation is about the same as before the Trump administration took office.

Job Openings: Another key indicator of economic health is the number of U.S. job openings on Glassdoor. Job openings provide a window into future hiring plans by employers, and are a useful real-time gauge of job opportunities for American workers.

The figure below shows monthly average unique job openings on Glassdoor during Trump’s first 100 days, as well as a year ago. In terms of levels, job openings are up under the Trump administration. U.S. job openings on Glassdoor averaged 5.1 million during Trump’s first 100 days, up from 4.1 million a year ago. These are marked by the orange lines in the figure.

However, the overall quarter-over-quarter trend in U.S. job openings was down slightly during Trump’s first 100 days. During Trump’s first 100 days, job openings were down by 159,000 on average compared the previous three months. This is shown by the step downward from the green to the orange line on the right side of the figure. Even though the “slope” of the line appears to be rising during Trump’s first 100 days, on on average job openings are actually down slightly from late 2016.

During the same period a year ago, job openings were also trending down on a quarter-over-quarter basis — this is normal seasonal trend early in the year — but they were trending down less strongly than today. A year ago U.S. job openings were down by 23,000 from the previous three months — shown by the small downward step from the green to orange lines on the left side of the figure. While U.S. job openings trended down both under Trump and the same period a year ago, they actually trended down more sharply under Trump on a quarter-over-quarter basis.

Unique U.S. Job Openings on Glassdoor

Note: Average monthly counts of unique open U.S. jobs on Glassdoor. Shaded areas represent the “Trump” period, and the “Year Ago” comparison period for the same three months a year ago. The orange lines represent the average during the shaded time periods, while the green lines represent the average during the three-month time periods preceding the shaded periods. Source: Glassdoor Economic Research (glassdoor.com/research).

The verdict: While total U.S. job openings on Glassdoor were up during Trump’s first 100 days, the average trend is down from a year ago. As with overall job creation, this is mostly a continuation of trends from 2016 — there hasn’t been much of a dramatic improvement or worsening of hiring during Trump’s first 100 days.

Manufacturing Jobs: What about manufacturing job creation specifically? Saving and creating manufacturing jobs has been a special focus of the Trump administration’s first 100 days. Are those efforts showing up in the data?

The figure below shows the level and trends for manufacturing jobs from the monthly BLS jobs report. In terms of levels, manufacturing added 16,300 jobs per month during Trump’s first 100 days, compared to losses of -1,300 jobs per month a year ago. These are shown by the orange lines in the figure. That’s a clear improvement.

In terms of the trend, manufacturing job gains improved by +12,000 on a quarter-over-quarter basis during Trump’s first 100 days compared to the previous three months. That’s shown by the positive gap between green and orange lines on the right side of the figure. By contrast, a year ago they were worsening by -5,700 per month compared to the previous three months. That’s a dramatic improvement in the trend during Trump’s first 100 days.  

Change in Manufacturing Payrolls

Note: Shaded areas represent the “Trump” period, and the “Year Ago” comparison period for the same three months a year ago. The orange lines represent the average during the shaded time periods, while the green lines represent the average during the three-month time periods preceding the shaded periods. Source: BLS and Glassdoor Economic Research.

The verdict: Manufacturing job gains are clearly up during Trump’s first 100 days, both in terms of levels and trends compared to a year ago. While it may be early to credit Trump administration policy for these gains, it’s undeniable that manufacturing job gains are up slightly in 2017.

Manufacturing Job Openings: What about manufacturing job openings? While U.S. manufacturing employment has been falling for decades, there are still hundreds of thousands of open manufacturing jobs posted every year on Glassdoor.

The figure below shows monthly average U.S. manufacturing job openings on Glassdoor during Trump’s first 100 days, as well as a year ago. Both in terms of levels and trends, manufacturing job openings are clearly up during Trump’s first 100 days.

In terms of levels, there were an average of 208,000 manufacturing jobs listed on Glassdoor during Trump’s first 100 days. That’s up from an average 187,000 open jobs listed a year ago. These levels are shown as orange lines in the figure.

In terms of the trend, the average number of U.S. manufacturing jobs during Trump’s first 100 days was up 6,300 compared to the previous three months. This is shown by the step up from green to orange lines on the right side of the figure. By contrast, a year ago the trend in manufacturing job openings was down by 7,400 compared to the past three months. That’s shown by the step down from green to orange lines on the left side of the figure.

U.S. Manufacturing Job Openings on Glassdoor

Note: Average monthly counts of unique open U.S. jobs in the manufacturing sector on Glassdoor. Shaded areas represent the “Trump” period, and the “Year Ago” comparison period for the same three months a year ago. The orange lines represent the average during the shaded time periods, while the green lines represent the average during the three-month time periods preceding the shaded periods. Source: Glassdoor Economic Research (glassdoor.com/research).

The verdict: Just as manufacturing job creation is up slightly during Trump’s first 100 days, manufacturing job postings on Glassdoor are also up, both in terms of levels and trends compared to a year ago. This is one measure of the economy that may be affected by Trump policy statements, as job postings partly reflect optimism about the economy by manufacturing employers.

Unemployment Rate: President Trump criticized the official unemployment rate during his presidential campaign. How has that rate fared during Trump’s first 100 days?

The figure below shows the official unemployment rate — known as “U-3” among policy wonks — during Trump’s first 100 days compared to a year ago. In terms of levels, the unemployment rate averaged 4.7 percent during Trump’s first three months. A year ago, it averaged 4.9 percent. These two levels are shown by the orange lines in the figure. That’s an improvement compared to a year ago — an indication that the strong and growing job market inherited by the Trump administration has continued during his first 100 days.  

In terms of the trend, the unemployment rate during Trump’s first 100 days fared slightly worse than a year ago. A year ago, the unemployment rate was improving by an average of 0.1 percentage points compared to the previous three months. By contrast, the unemployment rate during Trump’s first 100 days has been flat compared to the previous three months. The reality however, is that this likely has more to do with the economy hitting full employment than any policy by the Trump administration.

Unemployment Rate

Note: Shaded areas represent the “Trump” period from January through March 2017, and the “Year Ago” comparison period for the same three months a year ago. The orange lines represent the average during the shaded time periods, while the green lines represent the average during the three-month time periods preceding the shaded periods. Source: BLS and Glassdoor Economic Research.

The verdict: Unemployment during Trump’s first 100 days was slightly better than a year ago in terms of levels. In terms of the trend, unemployment was improving a year ago but has been flat during Trump’s first 100 days. However, this likely has little to do with any Trump policies so far in 2017.

Labor Force Participation: One economic indicator that has gotten a lot of attention during the early Trump administration is the labor force participation rate. That’s the fraction of the U.S. population that’s either working or looking for a job. It has been falling for decades mostly because of retiring Baby Boomers and Millennials staying in school longer. But recently it has leveled off and even risen slightly — a sign of health and optimism in the labor market.

The figure below shows the labor force participation rate during Trump’s first 100 days compared to a year ago. In terms of levels, it was indeed better under the first three months of the Trump administration compared to a year ago. During Trump’s first 100 days it averaged 63.0 percent, compared to 62.9 percent a year ago. Those two levels are shown by the orange lines in the figure. That’s a slight improvement.

Labor Force Participation Rate

Note: Shaded areas represent the “Trump” period, and the “Year Ago” comparison period for the same three months a year ago. The orange lines represent the average during the shaded time periods, while the green lines represent the average during the three-month time periods preceding the shaded periods. Source: BLS.

However, in terms of the trend in labor force participation, Trump’s first 100 days are unchanged from a year ago. In both periods, labor force participation rose by 0.3 percentage points compared to the previous three months. These trends are shown by the upward steps from the green to orange lines in the figure. Whatever factors are behind today’s rising labor force participation rate, they clearly began long before the 2016 presidential election.

The verdict: Labor force participation was up slightly during Trump’s first 100 days, but the trend was unchanged from a year ago. That suggests whatever is causing this improvement started long before the Trump administration took office, and probably isn’t the result of workers rejoining the workforce in a wave of post-election optimism.

Wage Growth: Are Americans’ paychecks rising so far under the Trump administration?

The figure below shows year-over-year growth in median U.S. base pay for full-time workers from Glassdoor’s monthly Local Pay Reports. In terms of levels, annual growth in U.S. median base pay averaged 2.9 percent during Trump’s first 100 days. That’s up sharply from the 1.6 percent average pay growth a year ago. These two levels are shown by orange lines in the figure.

In terms of the trend, pay growth has also accelerated during Trump’s first 100 days. During Trump’s first days, average pay growth was 0.2 percentage points higher than the previous three months. This is shown by the upward step from green to orange lines in the right side of the figure. By contrast, a year ago pay growth was up only 0.1 percentage points versus the past three months.

How much have Trump administration policies affected wage growth? Probably very little. Wage growth has been slowly accelerating over the past year, as unemployment has fallen and labor markets have tightened. Average wage growth has more to do with worker productivity and the supply and demand for key workers than with any White House policies during the first 100 days.

On the other hand, this shows the strong U.S. economy that was inherited by the Trump administration hasn’t been derailed by any early policy moves, and has continued its steady pace of growth.

Annual Growth in Median Base Pay for U.S. Full Time Workers

Note: Shaded areas represent the “Trump” period, and the “Year Ago” comparison period for the same three months a year ago. The orange lines represent the average during the shaded time periods, while the green lines represent the average during the three-month time periods preceding the shaded periods. Source: Glassdoor Local Pay Reports.

The verdict: U.S. wage growth has solidly improved during Trump’s first 100 days, both in terms of levels and trends compared to a year ago. However, this likely reflects broader improvement in the U.S. labor market that began long before the November election.

Stock Markets and Consumer Confidence

Next, let’s see how stock markets and consumer confidence have fared during Trump’s first 100 days. Unlike the labor market — which is a lagging indicator of the economy — both of these measures are forward looking, and provide a useful gauge of the nation’s optimism or pessimism about the economy.

Stock Markets: Since the November election, U.S. stock markets have surged. Most analysts attribute this to the Trump administration promises of tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks, and other policies that Wall Street traders often view as pro-growth. But is this recent surge any different from the same period a year ago?

We’ll look at two major stock market indices: The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) index. The figure below shows the daily closing price of the S&P 500 index during Trump’s first 100 days compared to a year ago.

In terms of levels, the S&P 500 is up sharply, averaging 2,342 during Trump’s first 100 days compared to 1,974 a year ago. These two levels are shown by the orange lines in the figure. In terms of the trend, the S&P 500 index is also up under Trump’s first 100 days compared to a year ago. One year ago, the S&P 500 index was down an average of 70 points compared to the past three months. By contrast, the index has trended up 132 points during Trump’s first 100 days compared to the past three months.

Growth in S&P 500 Index

Note: Price appreciation in S&P 500 index based on growth in closing prices between 1/20/2017 and 4/17/2017, compared to a similar period between 1/20/2016 and 4/15/2016. Trend based on average index value compared to the previous three month period (from 10/20 through 1/19). Shaded areas represent the “Trump” period, and the “Year Ago” comparison period for the same three months a year ago. The orange lines represent the average during the shaded time periods, while the green lines represent the average during the three-month time periods preceding the shaded periods. Source: Yahoo Finance and Glassdoor Economic Research.

The figure below shows similar daily closing price data for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) index of 30 large bell-weather stocks during Trump’s first 100 days compared to a year ago.

As with the S&P 500, the DJIA is also up under Trump’s first 100 days both in terms of levels and trend. In terms of levels, the DJIA has averaged 20,549 during Trump’s first 100 days, compared to 16,884 a year ago. These two levels are shown by the orange lines in the figure. In terms of trend, the DJIA was up during Trump’s first 100 days by 1,347 points compared to the previous three months. By contrast, a year ago the DJIA was trending downward by 534 points compared to the previous three months.

Growth in Dow Jones Industrial Average Index

Note: Price appreciation in DJIA index based on growth in closing prices between 1/20/2017 and 4/17/2017, compared to a similar period between 1/20/2016 and 4/15/2016. Trend based on average index value compared to the previous three month period (from 10/20 through 1/19). Shaded areas represent the “Trump” period, and the “Year Ago” comparison period for the same three months a year ago. The orange lines represent the average during the shaded time periods, while the green lines represent the average during the three-month time periods preceding the shaded periods. Source: Yahoo Finance and Glassdoor Economic Research.

The verdict: Conventional wisdom about a wave of post-Trump optimism on Wall Street mostly appears to be correct: U.S. stock markets have indeed been up during Trump’s first 100 days compared to a year ago, both in terms of levels and recent trend. And this likely reflects the impact of promised tax reform, regulatory relief, and other policies financial markets view as pro-growth.

Consumer Confidence: Finally, we looked at how U.S. consumer sentiment has fared during Trump’s first 100 days. We looked at the University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment, which is a well-known indicator of consumer optimism about buying behavior in the future.

The figure below shows average U.S. consumer sentiment during Trump’s first 100 days, compared to the same period a year ago. In terms of both levels and trends, average consumer optimism is up sharply during the first 100 days of the Trump administration.

During Trump’s first 100 days, the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index averaged 97.4. That’s up significantly from the average of 90.9 one year ago. These two levels are shown as orange lines in the figure.

The trend is up as well. During Trump’s first 100 days, consumer sentiment was up 4.4 points from the previous three months. This is shown by the large upward step from green to orange lines on the right side of the figure. By contrast, a year ago consumer sentiment was trending down by 0.4 points from the previous three months.

Index of Consumer Sentiment

Note: Based on consumer sentiment from January to April 2017, compared to January to April of 2016. Shaded areas represent the “Trump” period, and the “Year Ago” comparison period for the same three months a year ago. The orange lines represent the average during the shaded time periods, while the green lines represent the average during the three-month time periods preceding the shaded periods. Source: University of Michigan and Glassdoor Economic Research.

While average consumer sentiment is up during Trump’s first 100 days, it reveals a dramatic partisan divide. The survey’s “expectations index” among Republicans in March was 122.4, signaling an economic boom is expected. By contrast, the index average among Democrats was 55.3, signaling expectations of a deep recession looming ahead. An analysis by the New York Times shows this partisan divide is wider than after the politically divisive election of Barack Obama in 2008, and wider than after the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan.

The verdict: Consumer sentiment is clearly up during the first 100 days of the Trump administration, both in levels and the trend compared to a year ago. However, this average hides a stark partisan divide — it’s down dramatically for self-identified Democrats, but is up sharply for self-identified Republicans.

Bottom Line on Trump’s First 100 Days

Although the president personally has little direct impact on any of these indicators, for better or worse the president will ultimately be credited or criticized for whatever happens to jobs and the economy under his watch.

Overall, the data show that America’s strong and growing economy has largely continued its upward path, uninterrupted during the early days of the Trump administration. Among the 18 economic indicators we examined, 78 percent have improved during Trump’s first 100 days in office, while 22 percent are worse or the same as one year ago.

Despite uncertainty over health care reform, taxes, immigration and trade policy, foreign affairs and more, wages are rising, job openings remain near record highs, unemployment remains low, and stock markets are up. While Democrats and Republicans are sharply divided about whether today’s good times will continue under President Trump, jobs and the economy today show little sign of either a boom or bust on the way.