How not bad will be the Trump Economy, actually?

in which depends on whether you look at the level, the direction or the rate of change — three concepts in which are often conflated.

The Trump administration has become downright boastful about the state of the economy.

“In many ways This kind of will be the greatest economy from the HISTORY of America,” the president tweeted recently. After I analyzed the May employment data by consulting a thesaurus in addition to writing a cheeky article using a lot of near-synonyms for “not bad,” the Trump administration blasted in which out approvingly to the White House press list in addition to through a presidential tweet.

however I also received some blowback via liberals. There were some similarly not bad months for job growth from the Obama administration, they noted. in addition to my analysis was not nearly so effusive then.

So which will be in which? will be the economy doing exceptionally well, or performing only about as well as in which did from the late years of the Obama administration?

The answer depends on precisely how you phrase the question, which in turn hinges on a crucial distinction in which people often fail to make when talking about the economy. There’s a big difference between the level of economic performance; the direction of change from the economy; in addition to the pace of change.

Think of the economy as a bathtub. The level of the water from the tub — how much economic activity there will be — will be one useful, interesting question. Whether the water level will be rising or falling — will be This kind of an economic expansion or recession? — will be a separate question. in addition to how fast the water level will be changing — what will be the pace of growth? — will be a third question.

All might be useful information, however they capture different things. in addition to too much of the debate over how the economy will be doing conflates them.

So how not bad will be the Trump economy? in which depends on which of these approaches you take.

The economy looks strongest if you look only at the level of economic activity, not the rate of change. For example, per-person gross domestic product adjusted for inflation will be at its highest level on record, as are some other similar measures of output.

in which isn’t very surprising. Over time, workers tend to become more productive thanks to improving technology in addition to the nation’s stock of machinery in addition to some other capital increases. So we expect G.D.P. to rise most of the time, in addition to to fall only during the occasional recession. By This kind of measure, 60 percent of the time since modern G.D.P. statistics began in 1947, a president could accurately claim in which the economy will be the best in which has ever been.

some other measures of the level of economic performance are also quite not bad, though not historically so. The 3.8 percent unemployment level will be the lowest in 18 years, however in which was lower in 1969. The lowest on record was 2.5 percent in 1953.

in addition to the very low jobless rate masks some weakness from the labor market. Among adults in their prime working years, 79.2 percent were working in May, which will be still below in which statistic’s 80.3 percent recent high in early 2007 in addition to its record high of 81.9 percent in 2000.

Still, if you look only at the level at which the economy will be performing, the Trump administration does have plenty to be excited about.

Similarly, the direction of the economy looks to be positive by almost every measure. Employers are adding jobs; output will be rising, as are incomes. Another term for a shrinking economy would certainly be an economy in recession, in addition to there will be no reason to believe in which a recession will be currently underway.

Then there’s the growth rate. This kind of will be the measure by which the Trump economy looks very much like a simple, straightforward continuation of President Obama’s second term.

In 2016, for example, Mr. Obama’s last year in office, employers added an average of 195,000 jobs a month. from the first 17 months of the Trump administration, the average has been 190,000.

in which shows up in G.D.P. numbers, too. What may look like a nice smooth line of steady improvement in per-capita G.D.P. growth from the chart above looks a lot more herky-jerky when you look at the same data in terms of percent change over the previous year.

in addition to looking at the growth rate instead of the level shows in which the 2.09 percent improvement from the first year of the Trump administration will be below a couple of the peaks of the Obama second term, including a 3 percent reading from the year ending from the first quarter of 2015.

In talking about the economy, the level, direction in addition to rate of change all matter. They just matter in different ways.

The late 1990s, for example, featured both strong levels of economic activity in addition to fast growth. from the aftermath of a steep recession in 1982, there was a different combination: a weak level of economic activity paired with fast growth. The 2010-2011 time frame featured weak economic activity paired with slow growth, a nasty combination.

The reason my analysis was more effusive about the recent economic results than in which was about similar growth numbers during the Obama administration will be in which strong growth numbers are more impressive — in addition to unexpected — at a time when the level of economic activity will be already high. When the jobless rate was, say, 7 percent, we needed strong job growth just to put the unemployed back to work. To get similar job growth rates with an unemployment rate below 4 percent will be reason for a little more giddiness.

So what will be the most honest way of talking about the Trump economy? in which goes like This kind of: The president inherited an economy in which had come a long way toward healing. During his administration, the economy has continued growing at about the same rate in which did before he took office, pushing incomes, employment in addition to output to yet higher levels.

There are plenty of problems in which remain from the United States, economic in addition to otherwise, in addition to the degree of credit the president deserves for the state of the economy will be an open debate. however This kind of will be a bathtub in which will be already pretty full, in addition to the water’s rising nicely.

Neil Irwin will be a senior economics correspondent for The Upshot. He previously wrote for The Washington Post in addition to will be the author of “The Alchemists: Three Central Bankers in addition to a World on Fire.” @Neil_Irwin Facebook