The print edition of today’s NYTimes (we referred to the online version yesterday) contains an interesting chart:

click for larger chart

mfr_gains_04econ.chart
Source: NYT

Now here’s where things get interesting: We previously discussed the states considered to be “In Play” by Zogby International.Not coincidentally, many of these swing, key electoral college states are in the industrial heartland, which has borne the brunt of the recession and job losses over the past 3 years.

As of late, there has been an expansion of manufacturing activity, according to the Federal Reserve Beige Book. Employment has also been growing, albeit anemically. In at least 6 of the key states — Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin — there’s a mixed economic picture:

“Factories hummed and consumers kept cash registers busy in the first two months of this year, fresh evidence that the economic recovery is moving ahead, according to a Federal Reserve report released Wednesday.

“Economic activity continued to expand in January and February,” the Fed said in its latest survey of business conditions around the country. However, on the jobs front, “employment has been growing slowly in most Federal Reserve districts,” the report said.

So from the economic perspective, we continue to see the benefits from the massive stimulus combo of ultra-low interest rates, falling U.S. currency, increased money supplies, tax cuts and deficit spending.

Whether this stimulus nudges the economy into a self sustaining expansion is still unknown.

From a political perspective, the jobs creation issue remains crucial, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center. It is fraught with peril for both George Bush and his challenger John Kerry. However, the President’s opponent may not be Kerry, as much as it is time. The White House is, in effect, racing the clock: He needs sufficient job generation before the November to blunt the “jobs” issue in swing states. Like his father before him, Bush is at risk for the economy appearing to improve too late to save his own job.

Sources:
Chief Executives Expect to Increase Hiring, Survey Says
By DAVID LEONHARDT
N.Y. Times, March 3, 2004

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/04/business/04econ.html

Three-in-Ten Voters Open to Persuasion
Swing Voters Criticize Bush on Economy, Support Him on Iraq
Released: March 3, 2004

http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=205

Fed Says Economy Expanded in January and February
March 3, 2004
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/03/business/03WIRE-BEIGE.html

Category: Finance, Politics

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