ATLANTA — Above all others, the issue President Donald Trump stakes his presidency on is the economy.

"Market up big today on very good economic news," the president wrote on Twitter ahead of his State of the Union address this evening. "JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!"

Nearing the conclusion of a contentious impeachment process and an expected acquittal, CNN reports Trump will use his address to look forward, emphasize the economic gains under his presidency and present his case for reelection in November.

Watch the State of the Union tonight live on 9 p.m. on 11Alive's YouTube channel.

But how are those gains looking in Georgia?

According to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the most recent national recorded unemployment rate in December was 3.5%, down from 4.7% when the president took office in January 2017.

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In unemployment, Georgia is a little bit ahead of the national curve with a 3.2% rate as of December - also a record low.

State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler touted Georgia's economic strength in a release issued last month, saying it was "hard to have any better year" than Georgia saw in 2019.

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“Georgia closed out 2019 on a very high note,” Butler said. “We set records right across the board on all the major indicators.”

Georgia, the release said, added 70,000 jobs in 2019, representing about 3% of the national 2.1 million gain reported by the federal government (Georgia accounts for about 3% of the U.S. population).

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The president also often touts the black unemployment rate as being historically low. It was 5.4% nationally in the fourth quarter of 2019, but Georgia has lagged in spreading the gains as much to its black residents - according to the Economic Policy Institute, black unemployment in Georgia in the third quarter of 2019 was 6.1%.

When it comes to growth, the U.S. economy grew at a 2.1% rate last year, while the Peach State slightly outpaced that at 2.3%.

When it comes to taxes, the president has boasted of how his signature tax cut bill in 2017 has spurred growth, but it does come at a cost - the U.S. annual deficit nearly hit $1 trillion last year, the Associated Press reported.

Georgia began implementing an income tax cut last year, and House Speaker David Ralston said before the session he hopes to complete the second phase of the cut, to bring it from 6% to 5.5%. 

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That has coincided with a sharp drop in revenues. Gov. Brian Kemp said in September that revenues were down nearly 3% from a year prior, and he has pushed for cuts in the state budget. 

Whether Georgia's generally strong economic indicators will hold up in 2020 remains to be seen - a recent report by the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business is predicting a slowdown this year.


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