The America Donald Trump Is Inheriting, By The Numbers
Originally published January 19, 2017
President Trump will inherit a far different country than President Obama did eight years ago. It's a nation that is far more solid in some ways (economics) and shakier in others (terrorist attacks). We have gathered together dozens of statistics to show how the nation that Trump inherits (and the rest of the world) has changed over time.
Over the course of Obama's presidency, one basic trend was clear across a variety of economic indicators: After he took office, things got worse before they got better. That's not his fault, of course; President Obama took office in the middle of a devastating recession, and he introduced a stimulus bill that helped pull the country out of its plunge. Since then, many areas of the economy have (slowly but surely) recovered nicely.
However, many Americans remain permanently scarred by the recession. In addition, many structural problems (inequality, better incomes for men, whites and Asians than for other Americans) remain.
One big way that politics has changed under President Obama: His party has lost major ground. A majority in both houses of Congress helped him pass major legislation early in his first term, like the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial regulation reform law. But after that, Republicans gained ground, taking away Democrats' hold on power. Democrats are now at their lowest point of power than at any time in nearly a century.
Following an existing trend, violence in the U.S. continued to fall off during Obama's presidency. However, there are some hints of trouble. There was a slight uptick in violent crime in 2016, especially in some cities, which may or may not simply be a statistical blip. There has also been a recent uptick in the shooting deaths of police officers, though levels are still lower than they were in the 1990s.
Trump's immigration proposals created some of his biggest headlines during the campaign: building a wall along the southern border and a proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S. made waves as being particularly restrictive policies. In addition, he railed against bringing in more refugees. That means these numbers could change considerably, depending on how much he gets his way on immigration policy.
As President Trump takes office, several dynamics from Obama's presidency remain: Several thousand troops remain in Afghanistan and Iraq, although far fewer than when Obama came into office. But there are some new dynamics in the world that didn't exist when Obama took office: The Syrian civil war rages on and North Korea has conducted more nuclear tests and China has acquired or built additional islands in the South China Sea. One more big change, of course, is that the U.S. now has diplomatic relations with Cuba. It's unclear just yet how Trump will manage that transition.
Perhaps the most-watched statistic on the environment — the measure of global temperatures — remains troubling. Just this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the warmest global temperatures on record, the third record-breaking temperature in three years.
The big health policy story of Obama's years was (duh) Obamacare, which helped drive the uninsured rate down to historic lows. Not only that, but the rate of cost growth has slowed down. Still, costs of premiums continue to grow, and to keep costs controlled for customers, companies put a lot more emphasis on high-deductible plans.
America continues to have some dismal stats in a few health areas. Adult obesity continues to climb, and the opioid epidemic is raging — deaths from overdoses grew by an astounding 69 percent between 2008 and 2015. Also potentially troubling, data show life expectancy declined slightly in 2015 (though that may be an aberration from the upward trend).
However, there are a few bright spots, particularly among America's youth: There has been a dramatic drop in smoking among high school seniors; drug and alcohol abuse among teens is likewise at relatively low
With data contributions from Joe Neel, Jennifer Ludden, Didrik Schanche, Larry Kaplow, Denice Rios, and Richard Gonzales.