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For Halloween, Democrats Try Econ Fright Night

Author: Amity Shlaes, Former Hayek Senior Fellow for Political Economy
October 25, 2006


The third-quarter data on gross domestic product will be lower than the average for the first two quarters. In swing states such as Ohio, President George W. Bush’s opponents will present the GDP number as evidence that Bushonomics is hurting workers and sending the economy into the graveyard.

There’s a problem with this Halloween picture. Unemployment in Ohio last month was 5.3 percent, down from 5.9 percent in September 2005 and almost a full percentage point lower than the 6.1 percent in November 2004, when Democrats targeted the state for John Kerry.

Even the national numbers don't really make the argument. Suppose the GDP figure this week comes out at less than 2 percent, even close to 1 percent. That’s low, but only relative to the 4 percent average of the first half of the year. This is growth, not graveyard.

What’s more, the average worker in Ohio isn’t doing so poorly either. In September, the average real wage for production workers increased about 2.2 percent compared with a year earlier. That is almost double the rate that made President Bill Clinton seem like the workers’ invincible hero in the second half of the 1990s.

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