Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Is a message of "jobs, jobs, jobs" going to work for John Kerry?
John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, on Monday stepped up his efforts to close President George W. Bush's new double-digit lead in the polls, delivering a blistering attack on his rival's record on jobs.

In a hectic day's campaigning with stops planned in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio three closely-contested industrial states Mr Kerry said that not only had Mr Bush presided over a net loss of employment, but that new jobs were paying less and offering fewer benefits.

�If you want four more years of your wages falling. . . if you want four more years of losing jobs overseas and replacing them with jobs that pay $9,000 less than the jobs you had before, then you should go vote for George Bush,� Mr Kerry said.

The Labor Day appeal by Mr Kerry came as part of an attempt to focus attention on the traditional Democratic strengths of jobs and healthcare, amid growing unease among senior party figures that the campaign has started to lose momentum.
We all know the national figures: a loss of 1.68 million private sector jobs since February 2001. But what about the state-level figures? For after all, there is no national election for President of the United States.

You regular readers of the Globblog know that the General sees three key states in this election: FL, OH and PA. Kerry must win one, and probably two, of these to win the election in November.

The jobs mantra isn't being used much in Florida, and for good reason. Since 2001, Floria has actually gained jobs, 129,000 of them, putting July 2004 employment levels 2.1% higher than during the 2001 peak.

The theme is prevalent in Ohio, a state which has lost 217,000 jobs under Bush, a whopping 4.5% decline since 2001. Amazingly, Bush is leading there.

The third state is Pennsylvania, a state which is right on the jobs borderline. Whereas Florida has been doing relatively well under Bush and Ohio has been beaten up, Pennsylvania is right in the middle. The state has lost 93,000 jobs since 2001, down 1.8%. Pittsburgh has been hit hard, down 3.3% since the peak. But as many observers note, the Philadelphia suburbs are often the key to Pennsylvania presidential politics, and there the soil isn't terribly receptive to Kerry's message.

Since the 2001 peak, the Philadelphia metro area has lost 12,000 jobs (-0.6%). It's quite a different story in the city proper which has lost 18,000 jobs (-3.1%). Since June 2001 the 'burbs are up 3400 jobs (+0.2%). (Note: the city and the overall metro region peaked in different months, thus the 'burbs number is not 6000)

In a relative sense, the Philadelphia suburbs aren't doing too badly. If these folks are the ones Kerry needs to win PA and thus have a shot at the presidency, "jobs, jobs, jobs" is unlikely to resonate.

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