Red Counties Are Winning—But It’s Likely Not Because of Trump, Researchers Say

May 7, 2019, 5:48 PM UTC

President Donald Trump has repeatedly reminded the American people of the success of our economy, most recently on Monday, calling it “perhaps the greatest” economy of any president in history. And the economy is doing well—including in red counties that voted for Trump and had been hardest hit by the recession.

But a new report from the Brookings Institution suggests that doesn’t paint the full picture.

The report’s authors note that “counties that voted for President Trump have been ‘winning’ a little—or at least winning a little more than they were,” pointing to job growth and faster economic growth than seen during the Obama administration. But these wins may not be as big in red counties as Trump may want people to believe, and they might have nothing to do with him at all, according to the report.

“It’s pretty clear that the modest, probably temporary, gains of red counties likely have little to do with Trump-era policies and much to do with familiar cyclical and sectoral economic patterns,” the report notes. This is because the inhabitants of red counties typically work in more traditional sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing, and construction, which are cyclical in nature.

These industries, the report explains, are “volatile and highly dependent on national or global business cycles—and all are experiencing their fastest employment growth of the decade in the Trump years.”

So, during the recession, they suffered. Now that the U.S. has emerged from the recession and the economy is chugging along, these industries are beginning to catch up, too. And while we have begun to see job growth in these areas, the report suggests that these industries would be the first to be hit by any future recession.

For now, however, modest though it may be, the growth seen in these red counties might be enough to help Trump hold onto their vote in 2020.