Unemployment remains low nationwide, but it’s starting to tick up in a some key places—places dependent on the industries hit hard by Donald Trump’s trade war, and places that just happen to be in battleground states.
In around one in three counties in the United States, unemployment is higher than it was a year ago. That’s a troubling sign, but what may be most significant is that every county in Wisconsin, which Trump narrowly won in 2016, and every county in New Hampshire, which Hillary Clinton narrowly won in 2016, are among those one in three. The same is true of a majority of counties in Michigan, Minnesota, and North Carolina. (The same is also true of some states that won’t be 2020 battlegrounds.)
Analysts differ on what impact rising unemployment might have on Trump’s reelection chances. On the one hand, “In a 2017 analysis, Georgetown University economists modeled how swing-state county unemployment impacted the presidential vote, and found what Georgetown’s Dennis Quinn said in an email was ‘a significant penalty from rising unemployment, especially in swing states like Wisconsin.’” But on the other hand, the director of the Michigan Economic Center says that “I don’t think they will blame Trump for it. They are more likely to keep lashing out at immigrants and others.”
Whatever the political fallout, right now, a food pantry in Marinette, Wisconsin, has seen the number of people needing its services rise by 600 in just six months. That points to rising human suffering, which needs to be fought regardless of who the people in question plan to vote for.
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