Happy 2020 – Historically Good Numbers for the U.S. Economy

Have you looked at your investment portfolio lately? Assuming you are not a dunce and were an average investor in the stock market, you’ve done well. How well? It depends on your investment strategy but you should have been able to ride the Dow Jones (and other indexes) increase from November 2016 to today.

As an investor, along with my investment advisor, we look at the market in 90 day blocks. Even then, the numbers are pretty significant. On the day before the 2016 election, the most quoted index, the Dow Jones, sat at 18,334.74. Pundits predicted that if Donald Trump was elected, the market would plunge and we would enter another recession, worse than the one we’d just endured.

So what happened? The market rose steadily and closed on January 10th, 2020 at 28,956.90. For the record, that’s a 37% increase and is indicative as to what is happening in the U.S. economy.

Across the board, unemployment rates are at historic, as in 51 year lows. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that as of October 31st, 2016, the overall (men and women) unemployment rate for Hispanics was 6.6% and for African-Americans, 7.0%. Today, its 3.8% and 5.4%. While the difference in percentages is relatively small in raw numbers, it represents a 25% drop for Hispanics and 23% for African Americans and hundreds of thousands more in those groups employed. In other words, its significant.

The overall unemployment rate stood at 4.7% on the day of the election and had been dropping slowly, but steadily during Obama’s eight years from a recession high of nearly 9%. Again, media pundits forecast a new recession that would send unemployment back up. The real numbers tell another story. The current unemployment rate is 3.8%, or 19.2% lower. Why? Those who are unemployed are finding jobs and wages have increased.

Consumer confidence is also at new highs. For the last three years of the Obama administration, it lingered below 100 and on10/31/16, it stood at 98.6. Three years later, on 10/31/19, it was at 125.9, an increase of 21.7%. For the record, values above 100 are considered economically good, below, not so healthy.

There are many more statistics that show the U.S. economy is very healthy. Of course, there are the naysayers who are predicting a recession, or a slowdown. So far, events and the data has proven them wrong.

One can keep digging, but the underreported story is that the U.S. economy is doing really well. A Canadian friend once told me that “when the U.S. economy gets a cold, we get pneumonia.”

Heading into 2020, the U.S. economy doesn’t have the sniffles and that usually means that the economies of the rest of the world will do so as well. Looking at the International Monetary Fund’s data, almost across the board, it shows countries, even those one would not suspect, to be growing. That forecast along with a healthy U.S. economy is something to be happy about.

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