Primer—The state of the union for working people

In preparation for President Trump’s State of the Union speech, the Economic Policy Institute has assembled research from the last year that examines the real state of the union for working people on wages, manufacturing and trade, taxes, labor standards, housing, and immigration.

Wages and employment

  • 2019 had solid job growth, but wage growth slowed. Average monthly job creation has held remarkably steady for the past nine years, but it did soften in the last year, from 223,000 in 2018 to 176,000 in 2019. Wage growth slowed for much of the year, providing further evidence that we are not yet at genuine full employment. After hitting a recent high point of 3.4% year-over-year wage growth, the growth rate has measurably decelerated and wage growth closed out the year at only 2.9% in December.
  • Wage growth for low-wage workers has been strongest in states with minimum wage increases
  • More on longer wage trends in our Nominal Wage Tracker.

Manufacturing and trade


  • Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has been a policy failure. Notably, business investment contracted for the third straight quarter—the first time this has happened since the Great Recession in 2009. Given that boosting business investment was the primary stated goal of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) passed in 2017, this seems like an unambiguous policy failure.:
  • On its second anniversary, the TCJA has cut taxes for corporations, but nothing has trickled down

Labor standards