With Donald Trump winning the 2016 presidential election, Republicans have once again seized control of the White House and Congress. In addition to appointing a conservative justice to the Supreme Court, Mr. Trump aims to fill two vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board with Republicans and looks forward to a gradual reversal of the long established law regarding joint-employment and independent contractors. Under his appointed Secretary of Labor and Department of Labor Solicitor, the Trump administration might potentially recall many of the established regulations such as Fair Pay and Safe Workplace.
So how exactly will the president-elect alter the dynamics of various occupations? Who are the winners and losers under Mr. Trump’s economic policies? And most importantly, what should we be aware of when considering our career options under the Trump administration?
Starting from his primary, Trump has focused on “bringing back” jobs that have been outsourced. He accused many developing countries such as China, Mexico, and Vietnam of taking American jobs, claiming that the solution to the lost opportunity lies with strengthening the manufacturing base and creating jobs for the working class American. In a speech to the New York Economic Club in Manhattan, Donald Trump outlined his economic plans with the promise of an economic revival:
“Over the next ten years, our economic team estimates that under our plan the economy will average 3.5% growth and create a total of 25 million new jobs.”
Trump called for trade, tax, energy, and regulatory reform to improve the job market of the United States. More specifically, his economic policies include: reductions in non-defense spending, lower taxes, penalties for companies that move overseas, fewer environmental regulations and the renegotiation of NAFTA.
The most promising career option, perhaps, as a result of the election, will fall onto the working class Americans in the traditional manufacturing industry, the same group that lost their bargain power in the age of globalization and innovation. According to the census data analyzed by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, white male workers without a college degree saw their median income fall by more than 20 percent, after adjusting for inflation. Moreover, 14 out of the 20 percent experienced the wage decline between 2007 and 2014. As the land of manufacturing, such as in the case of Michigan and Wisconsin who helped make Trump the next president, it is not surprising that Trump’s primary focus lies with delivering his promise to the white working class citizens. On exactly how to accomplish the creation of 25 million jobs, Mr. Trump envisions expanding oil drilling and mills in the country, and shrinking trade and slowing the advancement of technological innovation on the other. Both of these, he claimed, pushed the economy away from the manufacture to the service sector.
A businessman himself, Trump also openly states his endorsement for entrepreneurship and he sympathize with their challenges. Small businesses have long become an integral part of the job market, accounting for 60-80 percent of new job creations. As an attempt to provide entrepreneurs with more incentive to keep their workforce, Trump is proposing a 15 percent corporate tax rate, which is much lower than the current 35 percent. However, upon further examination, his policies towards small businesses are not so friendly after all. In addition to cutting corporate taxes, Trump also suggests a raise of minimum wage to $10, which will largely increase the cost of employment for new businesses. Furthermore, the high tariff under the Trump administration would push the US companies to raise their prices to attain the same profit margin, forcing shoppers to pay more, and in turn bring about more harm than good to small businesses. Therefore, Trump’s economic policy points to a rather rocky path for future entrepreneurs in the years to come.
As for the development of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education, Mr. Trump claimed that there is no shortage of STEM workers because some STEM graduates cannot find jobs in their field. A further investigation with the Trump campaign also reveals that the president-elect will not be following the footsteps of President Obama in implementing federal STEM initiatives, but instead suggests that the management of our public education institutions should be done at the state and local level, not at the Department of Education. Moreover, Trump has remained silent on the issue of technological innovation. Given that Mr. Trump constantly deems technological innovation and globalization responsible for the loss of millions of jobs in the manufacturing industry, it is no surprise that he takes an ambivalent stance on the issue of technology and even perhaps the STEM field as a whole. On the matter of international students in America, Mr. Trump has stated his opposition towards H-1B visas. Although he claimed to be pro-high-skilled immigration, he has also proposed to block Muslims from entering the United States, hence potentially banning some highly skilled workers in the process. He has stated:
“I know Wall Street. I know the people on Wall Street… I’m not going to let Wall Street get away with murder. Wall Street has caused tremendous problems for us” says Trump in his campaign in Ottumwa, Iowa.
In the case of the financial industry, Trump’s public attitude seems to be less welcoming than his future policy. Despite his public denouncement towards the financial industry, Trump has turned to big-name financiers to help finance his campaign ever since the sealing of his nomination. As a matter of fact, Donald Trump’s advisers have a clear top pick for Treasury secretary: ex-Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin, who served as the national finance chair on Trump’s presidential campaign. If the president-elect determines to follow the suggestion of his cabinet members, the future career for investment bankers and financial analysts looks not so bleak after all.
“Treasury Secretary for Trump is Steven Mnuchin from Government Sachs…I mean Goldman Sachs, one of the biggest investment banks. I don’t see him being in a hurry to break things up” commented Mark Witte, professor in the Department of Economics at Northwestern.
On the contrary, Donald Trump seems unambivalently nonchalant towards environmental protection, considering the regulations of environmental protection agency a disgrace. When asked about what we should do to protect the environment, Trump made it clear that environmental issues remain way off his agenda.
“We’ll be fine with the environment. We can leave a little bit, but you can’t destroy businesses.”
Whereas the Obama administration invested heavily on the use of clean energy, the career opportunities in the “green” industries foresee little if any room for development under the president-elect. With a median annual salary of $63,579 and projected 10-year growth of 15 percent, Environmental science is currently on its way to become one of the fastest growing industries with boundless prospect. However, little optimism remains in the next four years to come. The demand for a degree in environmental science might significantly decline as a result of decreasing employment opportunities in energy auditing green construction, the wind energy industry, and even the currently fast-growing field of solar power.
Given the unpredictability of Trump’s policies, a less risky career path probably lies with industries where job growth is likely regardless of the president’s politics. Careers in accounting and tax auditing for instance, experience little fluctuation in terms of both job availability and wage. With a median salary of $63,550, and over 10 percent making more than $109,000, they are certainly among the top career choices no matter who stands in office.
While many are still anxiously monitoring the short run stock market reaction based on the election result, the real economy serves as the best indicator of the Recruiter Confidence Index in the long run, since it directly correlates with the rise and fall of unemployment rate. Despite the concern of many recent college graduates entering the labor market, fortunately, the strength of the real economy is unlikely to alter significantly as a result of the election. Therefore, the burden of career opportunity falls onto the skills of the job seekers and what the companies look for regardless of the economy and politics. As a highly skilled worker with a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern, presidential politics surprisingly have little impact on one’s future prospect.