Twelve of the 17 battleground states that likely will decide the outcome of the 2004 presidential campaign have unemployment rates below, in some cases well below, the national average, which could substantially improve President Bush’s chances in a recovering, job-producing economy.
Democrats, led by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, have been relentlessly pounding Mr. Bush for the economy’s nearly 6 percent unemployment rate and for presiding over “a jobless recovery.” However, an examination of the battleground states shows that a surprisingly large number of them had relatively tame jobless rates within the 4 percent to 5 percent range — numbers that most economists define as full employment.
The states with unemployment rates in the 4 percent range include: Florida, 4.6 percent; Iowa, 4.1 percent; Minnesota, 4.7 percent; Nevada, 4.4 percent; and New Hampshire, 4.2 percent.
States within the 5 percent range include: Arizona, 5.3 percent; Arkansas, 5.5 percent; Maine, 5 percent; Missouri, 5.1 percent; New Mexico, 5.6 percent; Ohio, 5.9 percent; Pennsylvania, 5.1 percent; West Virginia, 5.4 percent; and Wisconsin, 5.2 percent.
Only three big battleground states exceeded the current 5.7 percent national average: Michigan, 6.6 percent; Oregon, 7.1 percent; and Washington 6.1 percent.
Bush campaign strategists believe their chances of carrying battleground states with the lowest unemployment rate were good to begin with, but now they say their chances have measurably improved as a result of the government’s strong nationwide jobs report Friday that showed more than 300,000 new jobs were created in March.
Mr. Bush touted the news during his weekly radio address yesterday.
“This week, we received powerful confirmation that America’s economy is growing stronger,” he said. “People are finding jobs, and the nation’s future is bright. America’s families and workers have reason to be optimistic.”
Bush advisers said the report will do nothing but help the president in these key states.
“This report dramatically changes our prospects in many of these battleground contests,” said a Bush adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
However, Mr. Kerry said the president is misusing the information and that the right jobs aren’t being created.
“We now hear the administration claiming success,” Mr. Kerry said. “There is not a single month of this administration that has seen the creation of a single manufacturing job.”
More notably, Kerry campaign spokesman David Wade, whose most frequently repeated statistic is the 2.5 million jobs that have been lost in the past three years, ridiculed Mr. Bush and his party for touting the 308,000-new-jobs statistic put out by the Labor Department Friday.
“George Bush wants to measure this economy in statistics, but Americans measure his presidency in what’s happening in their lives,” Mr. Wade said. “Their attack ads don’t erase the fact that when Missouri workers find jobs, they pay less and come with fewer benefits.”View Entire Story
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