There’s a surprising rebound in trump country – and it could be short-lived – the washington post gas jokes

As he ran for president, Donald Trump promised to lift up regions of the country that had been left behind by the economy. “I want to go into the neglected neighborhoods, the failing schools, the forgotten stretches of this nation, and unlock their potential for all of our people,” he said in September 2016.

Now the early returns are in: In the first year of the Trump presidency, places that voted for Trump are doing better economically than at the end of the Obama administration. But that is not totally surprising, because the overall economy has continued to add jobs.

But for now, the data indicate that the 10 percent of Americans living in counties that gave Trump the most support in 2016 saw average job growth of 0.6 percent in 2015-2016. They saw job growth of 1 percent in Trump’s first year. Expand to counties that were home to the top 20 percent of his supporters — places where he got 60.6 percent of the vote or higher — and the acceleration was a still-perceptible 0.2 percentage points.

Meanwhile, the 10 percent of people living in counties that showed little support for Trump — which tend to do better economically overall — saw job growth slow slightly, going from 1.9 percent in 2015-2016 to 1.7 percent in 2017. The broader top 20 percent of anti-Trump counties saw job growth effectively stagnate.

As you can see in the chart below on Trump’s share of the vote in 2016, there’s a wide gap between the counties that are home to the 20 percent of people who provided Trump with the highest vote shares in 2016 (red lines) and the counties that are home to the 20 percent who supported him least (teal lines). Linger for a moment on the red line, which shows that these hardcore Trump-supporting counties have barely recovered in terms of jobs from the Great Recession.

Then consider the places that voted for Mitt Romney, the second chart. On the whole, they weren’t defined by their economic distress. There’s not much of a gap in the economic recovery between those who supported him most (red line) and those who supported him least (teal). Romney’s message didn’t resonate as much with Americans living in counties that are struggling the most.

If you want to drive home the difference, just consider the third chart. The counties with the biggest shift from Romney to Trump (red line) are still trailing far behind the rest of the country and may never regain jobs lost during the recession.

According to government data, six industries are overwhelmingly concentrated in Trump territories: mining, support activities for mining and oil and gas extraction, livestock production, logging, and the manufacturing of textiles and wood products.

“In some of these smaller areas, the economy outside of oil and gas is growing pretty slow,” said Jason Brown, assistant vice president and economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. “When oil prices declined by over 70 percent between 2014 into 2016, oil and gas activity declined pretty quickly in areas that were less productive.”

Oil and commodity prices crawled up off the floor in 2017 as global economic growth picked up pace and, more importantly, production started to recover. Companies became more efficient and shifted their efforts to more cost-effective wells and regions. As Brown explains, production, not price growth, leads most directly to jobs in the industry.

The return of mining and petroleum-related jobs goosed growth rates in Trump’s favor. The list of counties that bounced back the most last year is dominated by mining towns and shale basins, from Wyoming and South Dakota to Texas, Oklahoma and even parts of Appalachia. It’ll be tough to sustain

Oil, gas and mining are cyclical, but at least cycles include, by definition, some upswings. As the U.S. economy continues a long structural shift toward industries and services that tend to be focused in urban areas, it’s one of the few rural industries that can foster a 2017-like boost.

Remember that Trump’s apparent success is relative to a particularly anemic baseline. His strongest supporters are still seeing the country’s slowest job growth, even if it’s faster than what they had become accustomed to by the end of the Obama years.

For most of the analysis, we split U.S. counties into five groups based on the share of their votes that Donald Trump earned in 2016. They are weighted by the size of county labor forces. This makes the groups about equal in population and corrects for the fact that Trump won a large number of low-population counties, while Hillary Clinton won a much smaller number of high-population counties.

Most of the data comes from the Labor Department’s Local Area Unemployment Statistics. They are the most recent figures available, but they’re revised each month, with annual benchmark revisions occurring in mid-April. Industry-specific data at the county level comes from both the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns and the Labor Department’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.

To correct for seasonal variation, the numbers are all reported as annual averages. In our annual-change analyses, we defined “years” as beginning in February and continuing through January of the following year, because presidents don’t begin their terms until late January.