As Election Day approaches, the report’s observation that Ohio’s economy continued to show slow progress in emerging from the national recession in this month, as the unemployment rate continued to decline slowly, may not be news Gov. Ted Strickland can hang his hat on, as he finds himself engaged with his GOP opponent John Kasich in a neck-and-neck over who can best lead the Buckeye State out of the wilderness of economic malaise.
While the national economy continues to grow, that anemic pace is expected to continue in the second half of the year, based on a variety of sources including a statement Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke delivered to Congress recently that said the “economic outlook remains unusually uncertain.”
For Ohio, the decrease of 1,500 jobs in June, following two strong increases in April and May totaling 45,600 jobs – the best two-month gain on record since 1990, gives everyone pause.
Ohio’s unemployment rate continues at 9.5 percent. The rate was 5.3 percent when Strickland became governor, but the Great Recession had yet to exact its toll on the nation and its states.
On the revenue side, the bright news is that Ohio’s General Revenue Fund (GRF) tax receipts were 8.4 percent above the amount of receipts collected the same month a year ago. On a year-over-year comparative basis, the report noted, most tax sources in July performed better than in the same month a year ago.[...]
A key reason for the slow take-off from the 2007-09 recession, the report notes, has been modest growth in personal consumption expenditures. Simply put, Ohioans are spending less. The saving rate for Americans in general, usually very low by world standards which accounts for why two-thirds of the economy is dependent on consumers consuming, is now about 6.4 percent, down slightly from 8.2 percent on the resolution of the financial crisis in May 2009.
As a result dampened spending, reflecting Ohioans view that the future may be dimmer, chain store sales have decreased as has consumer confidence. While New home sales increased moderately in June, sales of existing homes and housing starts decreased again, the report noted.
This will put a serious damper on Strickland’s ability to claim economic competence as a reason for voting for him over Kasich. It also explains partially why the “blame Bush” strategy has been in play so much, since Strickland’s lackluster economic performance can be mitigated by pointing the finger upwards on the political hierarchy and backwards in time. If recent polls are any indicator, however, that’s a tough sell.