Swing State Jobs Update
Alert readers may recall that during the height of the Democratic primaries I did a series on the jobs picture in most of the big swing states — after many years of growth under Clinton, almost every one had a substantial jobs decline under Bush (Florida is an exception, but much of that is explained by above-average population growth.)
In the interest of being fair and balanced, the jobs picture in the swing states appears to be improving at an above average rate:
WASHINGTON — Employment has picked up significantly this year in a number of closely contested states that could decide the outcome of the 2004 presidential election.
The latest Labor Department figures on state jobs show that 10 of the 17 states expected to be the most tightly contested this campaign season were among the fastest-growing job markets in the country in April.
… Employment nationwide grew 0.2% in April, but job growth was more than double that in Wisconsin, West Virginia, Michigan and Missouri.
Still, it’s extremely unlikely that the very crucial Ohio will regain all 265,000 of its lost jobs (for comparison, Bush’s 2000 margin of victory was 90,000.)
While Bush supporters’ trumpeting of the finally-not-bad jobs news is understandable, improving but not even breaking even after four years is a pretty low target, particularly after accounting for population growth. “Bush/Cheney 2004: Not quite as much below where we started as you thought we would be!” is probably not the stuff of which wins are made.
UPDATE: By way of Atrios, the latest CBS numbers show that “Overall, 49 percent of registered voters now say they would vote for Kerry, 41 percent for Bush,” which is perhaps Kerry’s first statistically significant lead.