This article appeared in the August 02, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Are the economic tides turning on Donald Trump?

Amr Alfiky/AP
Ford's employees work on Lincoln Aviator and Ford Explorer lines at Ford's assembly plant in Chicago on June 24, 2019. July’s jobs report, released today, shows a still robust 164,000 new jobs. But the halcyon days of 200,000 jobs or more per month seem to be over.

Welcome to your Monitor Daily. Today we explore challenges to liberal governance, democracy in the workplace, the wonders of deep-sea coral, the healing spirit of cooperative living, and lessons of survival from beekeepers.

But first, we may have witnessed the economic high tide of Donald Trump’s first term.

He swept into the White House promising faster growth and, with a tax cut, the economy delivered. It grew a robust 3.1% in the first quarter of this year. But that may prove to be the peak for quite some time as second-quarter growth eased to an estimated 2.1% and many economists expect worse to come.

July’s report, released today, shows a still robust 164,000 new jobs. But the halcyon days of 200,000 jobs or more per month seem to be over.

Worse, wage hikes no longer seem to be accelerating and the workweek actually shrunk a little.

Employees are working less because of weakness in construction and manufacturing. That’s unwelcome news for a commander in chief who said tariffs on foreign imports would bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States.

It’s not that jobs aren’t returning to the U.S. Reshoring operations and foreign direct investment brought more than 145,000 jobs to the U.S. last year. But that’s not enough to move the needle much.

This week President Trump doubled down on his trade policy, threatening again to impose a 10% tariff on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese imports not yet targeted by the U.S. That could mean higher prices for smartphones and laptops and risks further slowing the economy. He may yet get China to blink and offer some temporary olive branch. But a full resolution of U.S.-China differences on trade remains, at best, months away, trade experts say, and could well slip into the next presidential term.

Could President Trump win a second term? Of course. The race for 2020 has just begun. But on the economic front, storm clouds have begun to appear.

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This article appeared in the August 02, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 08/02 edition