Donald Trump had worst jobs record for a president since before WWII; other benchmarks from the Dow to the Big Mac tell different stories for presidential records

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Donald Trump will go down in history as the first president with a net loss of U.S. jobs over a four-year term in federal tracking of the statistic that goes back to just after the Great Depression.

Supporters, however, will be quick to inject any number of measures that would support his presidency as a success – many that may or may not be any more directly tied to a president than the monthly jobs estimate by the federal government.

Such is the nature of politics and campaigning.

Complicated issues get broken down to the most simple data points, none used more often by politicians than the monthly report of U.S. jobs produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

All of this is an attempt by candidates and campaigns to put hard data to the more personal question Ronald Reagan famously asked during his debate with Jimmy Carter in Cleveland in 1980 – “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

But what data should be applied? While the jobs number is probably the most often cited by politicians, there are many possibilities.

As Joe Biden launches his presidency, here’s a sampling of 14 benchmarks, including some suggested by our readers, ranging from the stock market and worker pay to even the cost of a Big Mac sandwich. Save the numbers and check back in four years to see how Biden did.

1. The jobs count

Biden starting point: 142,631,000

When it comes to jobs, Trump’s coronavirus-damaged record is not good, a net loss of 3 million jobs over four years, based on the preliminary jobs estimate for January released on Friday. The nation had gained 10.3 million jobs during Barack Obama’s final term, and 1.2 million during Obama’s first four years.

The closest any president came to losing jobs over a four-term in U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data going back to 1939 was George W. Bush. The U.S. gained just 76,000 jobs during his second term that concluded amid the Great Recession.

Trump backers, for sure, will point to his first three years in office – ahead of COVID-19. The nation did add 6.6 million jobs then. But it represented a slowdown of sorts in the basic jobs number from the 8.1 million that were added during the final three years of Obama.

Keep in mind in looking at historical figures, as the population has grown the natural trend has also meant more jobs. And in recent years, there has been a growing number of people working two jobs, meaning they are counted twice.

On a percentage basis, the biggest jobs gains over the last half-century were posted during Carter (12.8{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}), Reagan’s second term (11.2{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}) and Clinton’s second term (10.5{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}).

Ohio lost 275,400 jobs under Trump through the last state report released, covering December. Ohio jobs were up 5.5{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} during Obama’s second term and 0.4{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} during his first term. Total Ohio jobs fell 3.6{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} during each of George W. Bush’s terms. They were up 4.9{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in Clinton’s last term, 9.4{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} during his first term.

Jobs under presidents Carter to Trump

The change in total U.S. jobs from the Carter Administration through Donald Trump, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.Rich Exner,

2. Manufacturing jobs

Biden starting point: 12,217,000

Drilling down a little deeper, while the preliminary estimate for January shows the economy lost 150,000 manufacturing jobs during Trump’s four years, there have been far worse times for this measure.

George W. Bush lost 2.8 million and 1.7 million manufacturing jobs during his two terms. His father, George H.W. Bush, lost 1.3 million. And Reagan lost 630,000 manufacturing jobs during his first term.

As for Obama, manufacturing jobs were down 578,000 during his first term; up 384,000 during his second term. Trump’s number for manufacturing jobs was up 425,000 over three years, before dipping sharply during COVID-19.

Over the last half-century, the biggest gain in manufacturing jobs came during the Carter era from 1977 to 1981 – up 836,000 – coming off what had been a loss of 473,000 manufacturing jobs during the 1973-77 timeframe of Richard Nixon/Gerald Ford.

3. Unemployment rate

Biden starting point: 6.3{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}

January’s unemployment reported Friday was 6.3{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}, up from 4.7{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} when Trump became president in January 2017. Though the estimate might be revised slightly later, it’s a significant change in the wrong direction over the full term.

Yet in between, it dipped as low as 3.5{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in three separate months in late 2019 and early 2020 – lower than at any point since 1969. Then the coronavirus struck.

Timing can be a big issue in looking at the record for a full presidential term. For example, the Great Recession of December 2007 to June 2009 bridged the end of the George W. Bush presidency and the beginning of Obama’s first term, with the job market not recovering until later.

But over the last half-century, January unemployment rates closing out presidential terms stayed within a range of 4.2{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} (as Bill Clinton left office) to 7.8{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} (at the end of George W. Bush’s second term).

In Ohio, the end-of-term rates ranged from 3.7{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} (as Clinton was leaving office) to 8.7{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} (as Bush was leaving office). Ohio’s January rate has not yet been released. In December it was 5.5{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}.

U.S. unemployment rate under presidents

U.S. unemployment rate under recent U.S. presidents from Jimmy Carter through Donald Trump, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.Rich Exner,

4. The stock market

Biden starting point: 30,931 Dow Jones Industrial Average

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose a record 11,198 points during Trump’s four years to a close of 30,931 on his last full day in office. That’s nearly double the 6,082 points gained during Obama’s second term.

The Dow, a benchmark comprising 30 leading U.S. stocks, has grown enormously over the past few decades through multiple presidents. It was just 946 when Carter left office. That’s why this measure is often judged by percentage change, the same way investors look at their returns.

The Dow was up 57{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} during Trump’s term, 45{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} during Obama’s second term and 72{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} during Obama’s first term. This came after dropping 24{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} during George W. Bush’s second term and dropping 1{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} during his first four years.

The top Dow performance, in terms of percentage gain, during the last half-century came during Clinton’s first term, when it rose 111{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}.

President Term Dow close Change Pct.
Carter 1977-81 946 -13 -1{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}
Reagan 1981-85 1,227 281 30{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}
Reagan 1985-89 2,235 1,008 82{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}
Bush 1989-93 3,242 1,007 45{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}
Clinton 1993-97 6,844 3,602 111{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}
Clinton 1997-01 10,588 3,744 55{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}
Bush 2001-05 10,471 -116 -1{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}
Bush 2005-09 7,949 -2,522 -24{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}
Obama 2009-13 13,650 5,701 72{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}
Obama 2013-17 19,732 6,083 45{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}
Trump 2017-21 30,931 11,198 57{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}

Note: Close on the last trading day of last full day of term.

5. Gasoline prices

Biden starting point: $2.17 a gallon

This is a barometer that comes up politically when there are big increases in what it costs to fill up a tank, such as during the Carter years. Gas prices doubled then amid an energy crunch from 59 cents a gallon on average nationally in 1976 to $1.19 a gallon in 1980.

More recently, Obama took heat from political opponents when the gas price hit an all-time high for an annual average of $3.62 a gallon in 2012, though the increase under Obama had slowed from presidents ahead of him.

The average cost of regular gasoline last month was $2.33 a gallon, and a little lower at $2.26 in Ohio, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But since gasoline prices fluctuate so much during the year, we looked at annual averages for presidential comparisons.

The U.S. average was almost flat during Trump’s term, up 1{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} from 2016 through his last full year in office in 2020 when it averaged $2.17.

Here are the full-term changes in gasoline prices since the early 1990s: George H.W. Bush (up 26{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} to $1.09 in 1992), Clinton (up 10{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} to $1.20 in 1996 and up 24{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} to $1.48 in 2000), George W. Bush (up 25{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} to $1.85 in 2004 and up 75{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} to $3.25 in 2008), Obama (up 11{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} to $3.62 in 2012 and down 41{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} to $2.14 in 2016), and Trump (up 1{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} to $2.17 in 2020).

And, in case you’re wondering, that $1.19 at the end of Carter’s term in 1980 would equal about $3.75 adjusted for inflation to today’s dollars.

6. Minimum wage

Biden starting point: $7.25 an hour.

At 11 years and counting, the United States has now gone longer without a change in the minimum wage than at any point since the introduction of the first minimum wage of 25 cents an hour in 1938.

The last change to the federal minimum wage was in 2009, Obama’s first year in office. This was the result of a bill signed by George W. Bush, providing increases in three stages from $5.15 an hour to the current $7.25. The bill also included tax cuts to help small businesses.

There also was a nine-plus-year stretch from January 1981 through April 1990 without a change in the minimum wage.

The $3.35 an hour rate established on Jan. 1, 1981, would equate to $10.03 a hour now, based on changes in the Consumer Price Index. The $7.25 in 2009 would equate to $8.77 now.

Ohio, however, has increased its minimum wage 13 times since voters in 2006 approved raising it and tying future increases to inflation. Ohio’s minimum wage is now $8.80 an hour.

U.S. minimum wage changes
10/24/38 $0.25    1/1/78 $2.65
10/24/39 $0.30    1/1/79 $2.90
10/24/45 $0.40    1/1/80 $3.10
1/25/50 $0.75    1/1/81 $3.35
3/1/56 $1.00    4/1/90 $3.80
9/3/61 $1.15    4/1/91 $4.25
9/3/63 $1.25    10/1/96 $4.75
2/1/67 $1.40    9/1/97 $5.15
2/1/68 $1.60    7/24/07 $5.85
5/1/74 $2.00    7/24/08 $6.55
1/1/75 $2.10    7/24/09 $7.25
1/1/76 $2.30   

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

7. What a week’s work pays

Biden starting point: $983 a week

The median pay for a full-time worker nationally during the fourth quarter of 2020 was $983 a week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, up 16{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} during the Trump years. Even in adjusting for inflation, the increase was still 8{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} according to the BLS.

The 16{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} gain during Trump was the best for any presidential term since an increase of 17{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} during Clinton’s last four years, based on the fourth-quarter data at the close of each term (1996 to 2000 for Clinton).

But remember, during the pandemic unemployment increased last year; this figure accounts for just the people still working full-time.

Since 1980, the best percentage gain in median weekly earnings was during Reagan’s first term, up 24{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} from 1980 through 1984.

In terms of pure dollar increases, the gain under Trump of $138 – going from $845 to $983 a week – marked the largest increase during this period.

There were four cycles between Clinton and Trump: George W. Bush (up 11{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} to $646 during his first term and 13{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} to $727 during his second term); Obama (up 6{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} to $771, and up 10{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} to $845).

8. Median household income

Biden starting point: TBA ($68,703 for 2019)

Whereas the pay benchmark covers pay for Americans with full-time jobs, median household income accounts for income of all sorts for all American households, including retirees and college students outside of dorms in off-campus apartments.

The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau on this is from 2019, so it doesn’t fully take into account the Trump presidency, including whatever occurred during the pandemic.

The median U.S. household income in 2019 was $68,703, up a robust 9.2{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} after adjusting for inflation, according to a Census Bureau report that starts with 1984 for both the U.S. and and the states, and adjusts each year to 2019 dollars.

For full four-year terms, the strongest gains were 10.5{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} during Obama’s second term (the change from 2012 to 2016), 8.2{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} during Clinton’s first term (1996-2000) and 7.7{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} during Reagan’s second term (1984-88).

Ohio’s median household income through three years of Trump increased 12.4{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}. In recent history, the sharpest gains for Ohio were 16.2{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} during Obama’s second term and 15.3{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} during Clinton’s final term.

Median household income, 1984-2019, U.S. and Ohio

This graphic shows the change in median household income from Ronald Reagan’s second term through 2019, the third year of Donald Trump’s presidency, the latest available data from the U.S. Census Bureau.Rich Exner,

9. The top 5{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}

Biden starting point: TBA (23{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of all income in 2019)

The richest 5{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of American households accounted for 23{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of all income in 2019, with the cutoff that year being $270,002. Each year during the Trump presidency, this share was at least 23{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}, the only times it has been that high, according to a Census Bureau report covering 1967 through 2019.

The share of total income for the top 5{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} ranged from a high of 23.2{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in 2017, the first year Trump was in office, to a low of 16.3{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in 1968.

Here is where the share stood in the final year of each four-year term, starting with Carter in 1980 (16.5{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}, down from 16.6{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in 1976), Reagan in 1984 (17.1{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}), Reagan in 1988 (18.3{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}), Bush in 1992 (18.6{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}), Clinton in 1996 (21.4{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}), Clinton in 2000 (22.1{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}), Bush in 2004 (21.8{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}), Bush in 2008 (21.5{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}), Obama in 2012 (22.3{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}), Obama in 2016 (22.6{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}) and Trump in 2020 (23{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}).

10. The budget deficit

Biden starting point: $3.1 trillion

The Congressional Budget Office during the fall in projecting a budget deficit of $3.1 trillion for 2020, more than triple the deficit a year earlier, offered this context:

“That increase is mostly the result of the economic disruption caused by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic and the enactment of legislation in response. At 16{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of gross domestic product (GDP), the deficit in 2020 would be the largest since 1945.”

But while the increase was not as sharp ahead of the pandemic under Trump, the budget deficit had been growing. During Trump’s first three years in office, the deficit grew from $584.7 billion in to $984.2 billion, an increase of 68{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}. In comparison, during Obama’s final three years, the deficit increased 14{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}.

Bill Clinton is the only president since Dwight D. Eisenhower to close out a term with a budget surplus in his final year in office, according to historical budget data from the White House. There was a surplus of $236 billion in 2000.

The deficits in the final year of each term since then were $412.7 billion for Bush in 2004, $458.6 billion for Bush in 2008, $1.1 trillion for Obama in 2012, $584.7 billion for Obama in 2016 and the estimated $3.1 trillion for Trump in 2020 (up from $984.2 billion under Trump in 2019).

U.S. budget deficits and surpluses, 1977 to 2020

U.S. budget deficits and surpluses since the Carter Administration, according to data from the White House and the Congressional Budget Office. The Great Recession was 2007-09; the pandemic began in 2020.Rich Exner,

11. Americans with health insurance

Biden starting point: TBA (92{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in 2019)

In the two decades leading up to passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in 2010, the share of Americans with health insurance hovered in the 83{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} to 86{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} range, based on various Census Bureau surveys.

The insured was 83.7{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in 2010 as Obama was signing the new law, improving to 91.2{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in 2016, Obama’s last year in office. The rate edged up to 92{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in 2019, the last year for which data is available.

Ohio’s insured rate stood at 93.4{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in 2019, up from 87.7{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in 2010, according to Census Bureau’s separate American Survey that it recommends using for state statistics. In the same ACS survey, the national rate was 90.8{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in 2019, up from 84.5{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in 2010.

12. Cost of college

Biden starting point: TBA ($20,598 in 2018-19)

The average cost of college tuition, fees, room and board at public universities nationwide was $20,598 in 2018-19 ($22,153 in Ohio), according to the most recent data published by the federal government’s National Center for Education Statistics.

This is up from $19,488 nationally in 2016-17, as Trump was taking office, an increase of $1,109 versus an increase of $857 during Obama’s final two years.

This average was just $1,935 in 1976-77 as Carter was taking office.

Adjusted for inflation, the 1976-77 cost of college according to the NCES equates to $8,350 in 2018-19 dollars, illustrating the significant increase in the cost of going to college. Some of this is due to rising expenses and some of it because of smaller taxpayer contributions to college budgets.

The average cost, without adjusting for inflation, increased from $6,020 to $8,623 during Clinton’s eight years in office, then to $14,212 in the eighth year for Bush, and $19,488 in the eighth year for Obama.

13. Federal income tax rates

Biden starting point: TBA (13.3{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} for tax year 2018)

The tax-cut under Trump in 2017 dropped the average tax on adjusted gross income for all returns to 13.28{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in tax year 2018 (the returns due in April 2019), according to the IRS.

This was the lowest level reported by the IRS since 2012, and down from 14.2{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in the last year of the Obama Administration (2016).

The top 1{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} – those with adjusted gross incomes of at least $540,009 in 2018 – paid an average rate of 25.4{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} for tax year 2018, in comparison to 26.9{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} for tax year 2016, the IRS reported.

The bottom 50{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of returns based on adjusted gross income of below $43,614 paid 3.4{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in 2018. This was down from 3.7{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} for the bottom 50{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in tax year 2016.

Since 2001, the lowest year for the average income tax rate for returns submitted was at 11.39{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in 2009, amid the Great Recession.

Tax year Top 1 {c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} Top 50{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} Total Bottom 50{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} Bottom 99{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}
2001 27.60 16.08 14.47 4.92 11.70
2002 27.37 14.87 13.28 3.86 10.58
2003 24.38 13.53 12.11 3.49 9.64
2004 23.52 13.68 12.31 3.53 9.68
2005 23.15 14.01 12.65 3.51 9.83
2006 22.80 14.12 12.80 3.51 9.97
2007 22.46 14.19 12.90 3.56 10.06
2008 23.29 13.79 12.54 3.26 9.81
2009 24.05 12.61 11.39 2.35 8.76
2010 23.39 13.06 11.81 2.37 9.11
2011 23.50 13.76 12.54 3.13 10.01
2012 22.83 14.33 13.11 3.28 10.38
2013 27.08 14.98 13.64 3.30 10.48
2014 27.16 15.52 14.16 3.45 10.79
2015 27.10 15.71 14.34 3.59 11.02
2016 26.87 15.57 14.20 3.73 11.09
2017 26.76 15.99 14.64 4.05 11.41
2018 25.44 14.59 13.28 3.36 10.07

14. The cost of a Big Mac

Biden starting point: $5.66

If all this government data is too much to digest, there’s nothing like a Big Mac to settle the stomach.

The Economist, an international publication, tracks the cost of the Big Mac, comparing not only how the price has changed in the United States but versus the cost of the Big Mac in other countries to get a handle on the value of currency.

The U.S. price of a Big Mac in December was pegged at $5.66, up 60 cents from four years ago, according to the Economist. (The sandwich costs about a $1 less in the Cleveland area.)

That’s a 12{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} increase during the term of a president who has sometimes served fast food to White House guests, marking a slowdown for Big Mac inflation.

The sandwich increased in price by 69 cents during Obama’s final years, or 16{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1}, according to the Economist.

Earlier tracking listed by the Economist is not always tied to December. The price was listed at $2.51 in March 2000, $2.90 in April 2004, $3.57 in May 2008 and $4.37 in December 2012.

Donald Trump, Kevin Cramer, Easton Stick, John Hoeven, Matt Entz

President Donald Trump welcomes the 2018 NCAA FCS college football champion North Dakota State to the White House with McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A fast food.AP

Rich Exner, data analysis editor for, writes about numbers on a variety of topics. Follow on Twitter @RichExner. See other data-related stories at

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