My fellow Americans, the state of our union is far weaker than it should be.
The economy’s growth isn’t benefiting most families very much. Life expectancy has been falling. The planet is warming. The rest of the world is less enamored of America than it has been in the past.
But I can offer you one major piece of good news: Our country’s urgent and growing problems have inspired more Americans to vote and to otherwise get involved in politics. And that sort of engagement is the best hope for restoring our country to its rightful strength.
Here, then, is the true state of the union, in charts:
The last few years — including 2018 — have brought some good economic news. Paychecks for most workers are rising faster than inflation. But the gains are still modest, and they don’t come close to erasing years in which pay gains trailed economic growth:
Younger Americans are faring especially poorly in today’s economy:
However, there is one group that has enjoyed pay raises and wealth gains even larger than the rate of economic growth. It’s the affluent.
Their wealth has continued to increase in recent years. Meanwhile, the wealth of the middle class — depicted here as the middle fifth of the income distribution, from the 40th to the 60th percentiles — has stagnated:
Income trends have followed a similar pattern to wealth trends:
The tax cut signed by President Trump in 2017 will aggravate many of these trends:
The Trump tax cut will also add to the national debt, which had already been projected to grow — mostly because of rising health care costs:
The most meaningful measure of our quality of life — how long we live — may be the most alarming of all. Life expectancy has fallen over the last few years, a trend with little modern precedent:
This decline stems from a complicated mix of reasons. But one development certainly isn’t helping: Since taking office, Trump has tried to undermined the Affordable Care Act, causing a rise in the number of Americans who do not have insurance:
And amid all of our other challenges, the planet has become dangerously warmer. Climate change has already led to an increase in droughts, heat waves, extreme hurricanes and other destructive weather. In the coming years, much worse is expected:
No wonder so many Americans are dissatisfied with the state of the union:
And no wonder so many residents of other countries that have usually looked favorably upon the United States now do not:
But as I mentioned earlier, there is one major reason for hope amid the gloom. Many more Americans have recently become involved in politics:
People seem to understand that the state of the union needs to get a lot better.