Jobless decline could set tone for presidential race
Posted March 03, 2012 in Press Releases
Ohio got a burst of positive unemployment news Friday, just as Ohioans prepare to vote in Tuesday’s presidential primary.
Ohio’s unemployment rate of 7.7 percent in January is the lowest monthly rate since November 2008 and well below the national rate of 8.3 percent.
“We think it is a sign that Ohio’s job market continues to improve and the economy continues to strengthen,” said Ben Johnson, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services spokesman.
Unemployment will no doubt be an issue in the presidential election, and if the positive trend holds throughout the year, President Barack Obama could get a major boost.5
No incumbent president since 1956 has lost re-election when the national unemployment rate declined in the two years leading up to the general election.
The national rate has dropped from 9.8 percent in November 2010. Ohio’s rate has declined even further, from 9.4 percent to the current 7.7 percent.
The rate is still painfully high, and Republicans point out that no president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has won re-election with an unemployment rate above 7.2 percent.
The employment trend, however, may be a more accurate indicator, and after the Ohio unemployment numbers were released Friday, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, quickly released a statement saying the numbers are still too high.
“Many Ohio families are struggling, and rising gas prices are making it more difficult to make ends meet,” said Portman, who is supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the presidential race. “On President Obama’s watch, the price of gas has increased by a staggering 102 percent.”
In the statement, Portman argued for cutting spending, reducing regulations and expanding domestic production of energy as a recipe for getting the economy moving.
Chris Kelley, a political science professor at Miami University in Oxford, said the unemployment trend, if it continues, will work in Obama’s favor.
“Unemployment is trending downward, and business output is trending upward,’’ he said. “That positive tone is going to have a profound impact on people who are not committed partisans