- The Washington Times - Monday, August 1, 2016

The No.1 motivating factor that gets Americans out to vote is the economy. Are they better off than they were four years ago? Are their wages increasing, are job opportunities plentiful, do they feel their children will have better opportunities than they did?

The distance between the haves and have-nots is widening while the middle class is shrinking. Donald Trump’s popularity is based on his ability to connect with the working class and speak to them about their economic plight in terms they understand. For many, it’s the first time they’ve felt like a politician has acknowledged them and then vowed to work for them.

Many pundits and elitists on the East and West Coast don’t understand this deepening divide in America — or the people it’s leaving behind. They look within their own gated communities and summarize everyone is doing well.

In Washington, D.C., with the growing government has been growing opportunity. Some homes built in the 1960s, within a close drive to the District, sell for close to $700,000, and no one thinks twice about it. On the other hand, the median sale price in Scranton, Pennsylvania — a Trump stronghold — is $70,500, according to real estate website Zillow.

In terms of annual growth, the pace of President Obama’s economic recovery has “been by far the weakest of any since 1949,” The Wall Street Journal reported this weekend.

Since the recession ended, growth — as measured by GDP — is up 2.1 percent, less than half of the 4.3 average annual growth during the recovery that President Reagan presided over. Population growth has outpaced job growth from February 2010 to March 2016 and the labor force participation rate has declined sharply.

Mr. Obama boasts he’s created 14.4 million jobs; however, during that time, the working-age population grew by 15.8 million, meaning, the U.S. has actually lost jobs under Mr. Obama, John Merline, a writer at Investor Business Daily reported.

And the number of jobs that can keep up with the cost of living are in five select fields, set in urban populations.

According to a new analysis by Hiring Lab, a scant 16 percent of U.S. jobs paid enough in the years from 2012 to 2015 to keep up with, or exceed, the cost of living, Forbes reported. Those jobs are concentrated in five categories: heath care, management, computer and mathematics, business and financial operations, and architecture and engineering — hardly blue-collar type jobs.

In addition, more than half of those jobs are located in just nine states — California, Washington, Maryland, Alaska, New York, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Virginia, and New Jersey — and the District of Columbia.

“People who live somewhere else, or who lack the training to work in one of the five thriving fields, have earned steadily less in real dollars and have sunk deeper into debt during the past 12 years,” Forbes reported.

But enough with the statistics — Americans don’t need them to prove what they are already feeling.

So enough with the fake controversies and blown-up political hyperbole this electoral season. Just as Bill Clinton said in 1992: it’s the economy, stupid.

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