By the numbers, Trump’s 1st year marks progress, peril

Darlene Superville
Associated Press

Washington – A by-the-numbers look at President Donald Trump’s first year in office reveals areas of both progress and peril.

The stock market is soaring, smashing record after record. The unemployment rate has ticked downward. Some categories of violent crime are down, too.

But more U.S. troops are stationed in war zones. More people think race relations have gotten worse under Trump.

A statistical deep dive into the state of the union before Trump offers his own assessment on Tuesday night:

Stock Market: As of Monday’s close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 45 percent since Trump was elected and 34 percent since he took office. The Dow closed at 18,332.74 on Election Day and 19,827.25 on Inauguration Day.

The S&P 500, the market gauge that professionals attach more weight to, performed about the same: It’s up 33 percent since the election and 26 percent since the inauguration.

Trump said at an economic conference in Switzerland last week that the market “is smashing one record after another,” adding more than $7 trillion in new wealth since his election. Left unsaid is that the market has done much better than experts initially anticipated because the U.S. economy has continued to gain strength. The rest of the world economy has also exceeded performance expectations.

Those factors, combined with low interest rates, economic stimulus elsewhere and tax cuts Trump signed into law at the end of the year, have helped stocks surge.

Health Insurance: Progress reducing the number of Americans without health insurance stalled toward the end of President Barack Obama’s term, and it may have slipped into reverse under Trump, according to one major survey.

The Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index finds the number of uninsured adults increased by about 3 million in 2017.

But the government’s National Health Interview Survey estimated that 28.8 million people were uninsured between January and June of 2017, not a statistically different change from 2016 and 2015. In the first six months of 2017, the uninsured rate was 9 percent, the same share of the population as in 2016.

Crime: Early statistics released by the FBI last week show declines in some violent crimes and increases in one category for the first six months of 2017, compared with the same period in 2016.

Murder and manslaughter increased 1.5 percent in the first six months of 2017 over the first six months of 2016. The number of rapes decreased 2.4 percent, robbery offenses fell 2.2 percent and aggravated assaults were down 0.1 percent, according to the bureau.

The report is based on information from 13,033 law enforcement agencies that submitted data to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program for the first six months of 2016 and 2017.

401(K) Retirement Plans: The amount of money being squirreled away in 401(k) and IRA plans has increased 10 percent in the past year, aided by that strong stock performance, according to the financial firm Fidelity Investments. Trump has said people often approach him to thank him for the boom in their retirement nest eggs.

The average 401(k) balance was $99,000 in the third quarter of 2017, up 10 percent from the average $90,900 balance in the same July-August-September period of 2016.

The average balance in individual retirement accounts, or IRAs, rose to $103,500 in the third quarter of 2017, up from $94,000 in 2016.

Military/security: Trump has expanded America’s war-footing, both in the number of troops deployed to war zones and in their ability to conduct offensive operations.

As his term wrapped up, President Barack Obama was withdrawing forces from Afghanistan as he eyed an end to the war. In a reversal, Trump has approved sending in more troops and giving them greater authority to go after members of the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

U.S. forces in Afghanistan currently number around 14,000, a 75 percent increase from December 2016.

Unemployment: More people are working or actively seeking employment. The unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in January 2017, the month Trump was sworn into office, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate has fallen steadily since then to 4.1 percent in October, where it remained through December, continuing a trend of falling unemployment that began under Obama.

Race Relations: More people think race relations have worsened since Trump’s election in November 2016. Back then, 25 percent of those surveyed by the Pew Research Center expressed optimism that having the politically inexperienced New York businessman in the Oval Office would improve relations between the races. By December 2017, the percentage who felt that way had sunk to 8 percent, according to Pew. Forty-six percent in the November 2016 survey said Trump’s election would worsen relations. That figure grew to 60 percent by last December.

National Debt: In Trump’s first year in office, the national debt grew by $546.4 billion. In 2016, Obama’s final year, the national debt grew by $1.01 trillion. The debt would have grown more in 2017 if not for the fact that the Trump administration is constrained by reaching the debt ceiling of $20.5 trillion.

Trade Deficits: Trump made America’s trade deficits with China and other countries a central tenet of his campaign, vowing to move toward trade that he deems fair and reciprocal to protect the U.S. from being taken advantage of financially. Within days of taking office in 2017, Trump pulled the U.S. out of a sweeping trade pact with 11 Pacific Rim nations. He is renegotiating NAFTA.