Comparing Obama and Trump Economy: A Comprehensive Analysis

When it comes to evaluating the performance of the United States economy, it is impossible to overlook the impact of both Barack Obama and Donald Trump’s presidential terms. These two presidents implemented different economic policies, often resulting in varying outcomes. In this blog post, we will delve into a detailed comparison of the Obama and Trump economies, exploring various key indicators and assessing the impact of their policies on economic growth, job creation, and trade.

Table of Contents

  1. Economic Growth
  2. Job Creation
  3. Trade

Economic Growth

One crucial aspect of any economy is its growth rate, commonly measured by the gross domestic product (GDP) growth. During the Obama administration, the economy faced a severe setback due to the global financial crisis that erupted in 2008. However, Obama managed to steer the nation towards recovery. From 2010 to 2016, the average annual GDP growth rate was around 2%. This steady growth was achieved through a combination of fiscal stimulus measures, including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and monetary policies pursued by the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates and maintain liquidity.

On the other hand, Trump’s presidency witnessed a surge in economic growth. His administration implemented significant tax cuts for both individuals and corporations. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 aimed to stimulate business investment and boost consumer spending. As a result, the economy experienced a growth rate of 2.9% in 2018, surpassing Obama’s highest growth rate achieved during his presidency. However, it is important to note that this growth may have been partly influenced by the fiscal policies set in motion during Obama’s presidency.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Job Creation

The labor market performance is a key metric in assessing the health of an economy. Under Obama’s presidency, the country experienced a significant decline in employment in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. However, his administration managed to reverse this trend and create a sustained period of job growth. From early 2010 to the end of his term in January 2017, the economy gained a total of approximately 11.6 million jobs. This period of job creation signaled a dramatic turnaround from the crisis years.

During Trump’s presidency, the labor market’s performance continued its positive trajectory. His administration emphasized deregulation and tax cuts as mechanisms for job growth. As a result, the economy added approximately 6.7 million jobs between January 2017 and June 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic caused significant disruptions. However, it’s worth noting that due to the pandemic, Trump’s job creation figures suffered a setback.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


Trade policy plays a crucial role in shaping the overall economic landscape. During his tenure, Obama pursued a more globalist approach, focusing on negotiating free trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and working towards the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). These initiatives aimed to increase access to foreign markets for American businesses and strengthen economic ties with strategic partners.

Trump, on the other hand, took a more protectionist stance on trade. He withdrew the United States from the TPP and renegotiated existing trade agreements, such as NAFTA, resulting in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Additionally, he implemented tariffs on various goods, particularly targeting countries such as China, in an effort to reduce the trade deficit. These measures aimed to protect domestic industries and encourage domestic production.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Comparing the economic performances of Barack Obama and Donald Trump requires considering the broader contexts in which their policies were implemented. Obama’s policies focused on recovery from the global financial crisis and achieving stable growth. Trump’s policies aimed to stimulate economic growth through tax cuts and deregulation.

While Obama managed to guide the nation towards recovery and achieve consistent economic growth, Trump’s presidency witnessed higher economic growth rates and continued job creation. The impact of their trade policies varied significantly, with Obama pursuing a more globalist approach and Trump adopting protectionist measures.

In the end, the assessment of their respective economic performances lies in the eyes of the beholder, as it largely depends on individual perspectives and priorities. Nevertheless, the economy is a complex system influenced by numerous factors, making it challenging to attribute its performance solely to the actions of any one president. The true evaluation of their economic legacies will continue to be a subject of debate for years to come.

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