If you are not deaf and dumb you now realize from the political ads of both campaigns that all the woes of the economy are the fault of the opposition and all the progress and potential successes are the result of diligent actions by your preferred candidate's party.
Really? Not at all
We keep hearing that the U.S. presidential election is all about jobs.
So why aren’t we getting more concrete ideas from the candidates about how to create more of them?
That’s a trick question; we know there are no easy answers.
Declaring that you will produce 12 million jobs in your first term by lowering taxes, boosting domestic energy production and cutting government spending, as Republican nominee Mitt Romney does, isn’t convincing.
Nor is President Barack Obama’s promise to lower unemployment by taxing the rich and spending more on education, public works and manufacturing.
Is the Ohio employment picture illustrative of the national picture?
One of the best examples of the collaborative approach comes from the campaign battleground of Ohio. The state lost 282,000 jobs in the 2007-2009 recession.
Today, Ohio’s unemployment rate is 7.2 percent, 1.1 percentage points below the national figure. It’s all the more impressive considering that Ohio was devastated by the housing bust, the near-collapse of the U.S. auto industryand the offshoring of manufacturing to cheaper locales in Asia.
As the presidential campaign intensifies, Obama will try to claim credit for Ohio’s comeback, as will the state’s Republican governor, John Kasich.
In truth, they both deserve some credit - - but not all or even most of it. Obama’s contribution was bailing out the auto industry, which employed 35,000 Ohioans in 2002.
Today, that’s down to about 20,000, after hitting a low of 14,000 in January 2009, before Obama took office
The real reason behind improving employment numbers in Ohio predates President Obama and Governor Kasich.
But more has gone right in Ohio than the auto industry’s revival. Kasich’s two predecessors, one a Democrat and one a Republican, got the ball rolling with a program called Third Frontier, a 10-year-old economic development plan that encourages advanced technology companies, suppliers, service providers and academic institutions to work together to attract more employers to the area. The state now has 20 clusters devoted to industries such as flexible electronics and energy: hybrid cars, fuel cells, smart office buildings, and wind, solar and nuclear power.
What exactly has been happening in Ohio?
All of this collaboration seems to be having an effect. Ohio says Third Frontier has directly created 14,500 jobs, at an average salary of about $62,000. Manufacturing has rebounded. There are waiting lists for vacant apartments in downtown Cleveland. Office space is scarce in Youngstown. Unemployment is 6.9 percent in Akron.
A recent Brookings Institution study of the U.S.’s 100 largest labor markets says Cleveland was fourth-best in the country for attracting new industries and lowering unemployment. Youngstown came in sixth, and Akron and Columbus tied for eighth place.
None of these coalitions are ideological or partisan. Government money is needed to pay for salaries and other necessities, but the work doesn’t require gobs of federal funds. It doesn’t provide easy sound bites the way tax cuts, deficit reduction or entitlement reform do, and it isn’t as intellectually stimulating as debating the virtues of free markets versus the power of Keynesian economics.
So there are apolitical, non-partisan business based approaches that can be taken to improve the economy and lower unemployment.
Food for thought?