You say unemployment, I say unemployed

by | Dec 23, 2013 | 2014 Elections, Economy, Editor's Blog | 1 comment

Recent employment data has Republicans crowing and Democrats griping. The  GOP says that the dramatic drop in the unemployment rate justifies Republican economic policies. Democrats claim that much of the decline is due to people leaving the workforce.

The lower unemployment rate is certainly good news for the GOP. It’s an easy measure for people to digest and it works well in ads. They can legitimately claim that the unemployment rate dropped under their watch.

Democrats have a point, too. The workforce is shrinking, discouraged unemployed folks are no longer seeking jobs and cuts to unemployment benefits could leave families hurting. The argument, though, is harder to understand and doesn’t fit well into a 30 second ad. Besides, in 2014, voters will likely be looking for good news, not bad.

However, the statistics will matter less than how people are feeling as the off year election approaches. If people feel like their circumstances are improving, then the low unemployment rate is evidence that the whole state is getting better. On the other hand, if people are feeling like they are still struggling to recover from the Great Recession, all of the good looking statistics won’t convince them that the state is on the right track.

The Civitas poll last week showed a depressed electorate. Almost 60% of the people think the state is still in recession and more think we’re on the wrong track than the right track. Those numbers will have to change before people feel good about the unemployment rate. There’s plenty of time for that to happen, though.

Who knows whether Republican policies improved the unemployment rate or caused the drop in the workforce. Regardless, they will get the credit and the blame. It’s the benefit and curse of incumbency.

However, statistics are less important in judging the success of policies than their impact on people’s lives. Over the next year, we should focus on factors like medium income, infant mortality, graduation rates and home ownership. Low unemployment is less important if people feel that their personal situation is not improving.

Graphic curtesy of the The Carolina Mercury.

1 Comment

  1. troy

    And as of yesterday, that statistical number is going to get even better for Republicans as more people are dropped off the rolls that received long term unemployment. I wonder how many will sit up and take notice when the crime rate begins to ratchet up? North Carolina has been hit hard with unemployment due to the collapse of unskilled and semi-skilled manufacturing moves off shore. Those jobs aren’t going to return. The prospects for employment are pale despite those that pontificate the availability of jobs. Working at Big Box-Mart is not a job, it’s an activity. Why? If you can’t make enough to shelter, clothe, and feed yourself and your family, what purpose does it serve other than being an activity? Sure, it’s a job by strict definition, but you are still going to be on public assistance in order to survive. That’s right, survive. Making it is out of the question, now it’s about survival.

    Just recently, Salisbury made a list on 24/7 Wall Street ( Salisbury was number 5 on the list of the 10 worst. Salisbury and Rowan County has been a Republican stronghold for a very long time. Is Salisbury going to be a microcosm of reality for what awaits the rest of North Carolina?

    There’s an old bit of wisdom that goes, “Those that can’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And I’m seeing a return not just toward the Old South, the antebellum South, but Feudal England. Déjà vu.

    Will those responsible in the legislature and the Governor’s mansion own what they’ve done? Will our citizens be outlaws just to provide for themselves contrary to the greed and hedonistic policies of and for a few? We’ll see soon enough. 28 December was the zero point start for this time line. If those benefits are not restored and no one here is naïve enough to believe that jobs aplenty are going to fall from the sky and put everyone back to work on 01 January, 2014 should prove itself a year to remember; for the wrong reasons.

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