A very interesting economic analysis explains the Trump electoral success. The gist - job growth in the Obama "recovery" was concentrated in urban areas. That favored ethnic groups that are over-represented in our cities and hurt rural whites who are over-represented in the lagging outlands.
Where Were Trump’s Votes? Where the Jobs Weren’t
Eduardo Porter of the Times leads with an anecdote about Obama's obliviousness, which seems both unkind and redundant at this point:
Did the white working class vote its economic interests?
The day after the presidential election — in a long and brooding interview with Rolling Stone magazine — President Obama offered his take on why blue-collar whites flocked so decidedly to Donald J. Trump.
“This is not simply an economic issue,” Mr. Obama concluded. “This is a cultural issue. And a communications issue.” From family leave and overtime rules to Obamacare, he noted, his administration offered a steady stream of policies to help working-class communities. But “whatever policy prescriptions that we’ve been proposing don’t reach, are not heard, by the folks in these communities.”
This view fits a common narrative among liberal analysts of American politics, most prominently conveyed in “What’s the Matter With Kansas,” the 2004 best-selling book by Thomas Frank: Republicans use cultural issues like abortion, guns and gay marriage to gain the votes of struggling workers who nonetheless stand to lose the most from the Republicans’ small-government agenda.
But it largely misses the mark. Yes, the economy has added millions of jobs since President Obama took office. Even manufacturing employment has recovered some of its losses. Still, less-educated white voters had a solid economic rationale for voting against the status quo — nearly all the gains from the economic recovery have passed them by.
As to the distribution of gains, the numbers tell an unsurprising story:
There are almost nine million more jobs than there were at the previous peak in November 2007, just before the economy tumbled into recession. But the gains have not been evenly distributed.
Despite accounting for less than 15 percent of the labor force, Hispanics got more than half of the net additional jobs. Blacks and Asians also gained millions more jobs than they lost. But whites, who account for 78 percent of the labor force, lost more than 700,000 net jobs over the nine years.
The racial and ethnic divide is starker among workers in their prime. Whites ages 25 to 54 lost some 6.5 million jobs more than they gained over the period. Hispanics in their prime, by contrast, gained some three million jobs net, Asians 1.5 million and blacks one million.
“In every age group,” wrote Lakshman Achuthan of the Economic Cycle Research Institute in a penetrating analysis, “blacks, Hispanics and Asians have more jobs now than they did at the November 2007 high-water mark.”
Wow. Overlay that with declining life expectancy in the white working class and one might hope that even Democrats intent on overthrowing the white patriarchy would take pause.
And as mentioned, the explanation is that, in the twilight struggle of slicks versus hicks, the cityfolk are winning:
Non-Hispanic whites account for 62 percent of the population. But they make up some 78 percent of the population of nonmetropolitan areas and 71 percent of that of small cities, according to the demographer William H. Frey from Brookings. By contrast, they account for only 56 percent of the population of the 100 largest urban areas in the country.
Problem is, many of the jobs created since the economy started recovering from recession were in service industries, located primarily in large metropolitan areas — not in small towns and rural areas where the factories that once provided steady good jobs were either shuttered or were retooled to replace workers with machines.
Even as the typical American household experienced the fastest income growth on record last year, median household income outside of metropolitan areas fell 2 percent, according to the Census Bureau. By last summer employment in nonmetropolitan areas was still 2 percent lower than in the first quarter of 2008.
What's surprising is that this is surprising, since we have been talking about a phantom recovery for eight years.