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Friday, February 09, 2007

Jean Schmidt's 'Roaring' Economy vs. Feds 'Jobless Recovery'

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt is out with a new press release that seems to shout from the rooftops that "our nation's economy is unidisputably robust, resilient and roaring." The OH-02 Republican from Clermont County represents counties with some of the highest jobless rates in the state -- good thing the economy is roaring.

Schmidt contends the Federal Reserve Bank supports her rosy view. But does it? An "Economic Trends" report issued this week (February 7) by the federal reserve bank of Cleveland -- a bank with a branch in downtown Cincinnati, a town Schmidt serves as congresswoman -- reads far gloomier. In fact, the report describes the fix Ohio is in as a "jobless recovery."

Schmidt sees things differently than the fed's economists. "As I've said many times before, we owe this good news to sound pro-growth economic policies and historic tax relief legislation that continues to fuel our economy," she said.

So it is "good news" that we have a "jobless recovery" in Ohio. That's a massive disconnect between partisan spin and the fed, which reported:

"The glaring difference between nonfarm employment for 2001-07 and the average employment growth cannot be explained by atypical recession or recovery; real GDP stayed within normal bounds throughout the cycle. Nor can it be explained in the unusually large benchmark revisions in nonfarm employment for April 2005 through March 2006 (seasonally adjusted from 2002 onward) from the BLS; even the upwardly revised data show employment far below normal levels. Thus the current expansion remains a 'jobless recovery'"

The entire fed report, with charts, is HERE, and it focuses on the chunk of United States that Mrs. Schmidt is elected to speak for in the U.S. House. Check out her views on the "roaring economy".

The difficulty for Schmidt is that Ohio and other portions of the industrialized Midwest have not prospered in this economy. The state is struggling with the loss of its manufacturing base, a fact that seems to elude the U.S Rep from OH-02 where Ford Motor Co. is closing a tranmission plant. Even President George W. Bush has pointed out that we're not doing too good right now.

[UPDATE: Others in the Ohio blogosphere are scratching their heads about Schmidt's latest blast today. A Democratic blog has linked to a GOP-leaning blog, not something one sees in the normal course of political discourse. Schmidt might turn out to be a decent lawmaker if she can find her footing. She needs to shut up on the economy, though. She represents the Ohio River Valley, and she needs to figure that out. I have a guess that the latest missive was not prepared by Schmidt herself, but probably was some kind of handout that she regurgitated. Whoever gives her that stuff is getting her into trouble. Rob Portman, her predecessor, would have flushed it.]


  1. What the Fed - Cleveland says doesn't hold for the whole state.

    In Schmidt's district as of Dec. 31, 2006 (Dec. 31, 2005 in parens):
    - Hamco - 5.0 (5.2)
    - Clerco - 5.1 (5.1)
    - Warren - 4.2 (4.3)
    - Pike - 9.7 (9.8)
    - Scioto - 7.6 (8.0)
    - Adams - 8.3 (8.2)
    - Brown - 7.0 (7.0)

    The first three counties make up the lion's share of the district's population (80%, I estimate, based on review of Census data and prorating the population of counties she partially represents). The weighted average unemployment rate in the big 3 counties is 5.0%, and is significantly below December's statewide average of 5.4%.

    That isn't to minimize the other 4, which have had serious problems dating back decades. The Dec. figures for the other 4 seem to be above their average throughout the rest of the year. My back-of-envelope estimate is that weighted average unemployment in the entire district was about 5.6% in Dec. 2006.

    As to numbers of jobs, I estimate, based on reviewing Dec. 2006 and Dec. 2005 Ohio Jobs data by county and prorating counties Schmidt only partially represents, that her district added 6000 jobs in 2006, a disproportionately high number in a state that only added 78,900 jobs in total (even that is a 1-plus-% increase in the number of jobs -- hardly "jobless." You want "jobless," go to Michigan).

    The biggest takeaway from how Schmidt's district is doing is that its 2006 IMPROVEMENT significantly outpaced the rest of Ohio's. She doesn't deserve much of the credit for that personally, of course, and I don't think she's trying to claim it personally.

    If the Bush tax cuts weren't in place, the situation would be worse instead of marginally better in Ohio as a whole. Her statement that "our nation's economy (as a whole) is unidisputably robust, resilient and roaring" is indisputably ...... TRUE.

    Finally, the reason Ohio isn't doing as well as the rest of the nation has a lot to do with the tax increases Taft, Schmidt, and other Republicans supported -- but pinning the blame for that entirely on Schmidt is something only a rabid COASTer would do.

  2. Tom --

    You, as always, have done a great job with numbers. My suggestion and belief is that Mrs. Schmidt has to be more cautious about her rosy economic pronouncements. She will be trapped in debates she does not have to engage in as a local politician. Why does she not say -- things are good around much of the nation, they should be better at home. I'm going to do all in my power to make them better.

    I think that would be great, sort of Reaganesque and Clintonesque, (though I know you would be dismayed I put those names in the same sentence.)

    Thanks for for your reasoned, and reasonable, response. It adds to what we all need to know. Excellent work, most excellent.

  3. Thanks for the nice words.

    I agree with your suggestion to her about what she didn't say, because there IS room for improvement, and I meant to throw that in.

    Reaganesque AND Clintonesque? That would be a sight.

  4. I'd suggest that much of the blame for Ohio's economic troubles can be laid at the feet of state and local officials rather than the feds.

  5. Buckblog --

    Thanks for stopping by and jumping in!!! I reckon you mean the tax climate is poor, or the development office was not aggressive and successful in recruiting new businessess, crime, higher ed issues? And there is the whole matter of fiefdoms -- how gov'ts don't cooperate on a regional basis? Is that the kind of stuff you mean about state and local?

    That said, I do think the federal government has a significant role in nourishing and managing the U.S. economy. For example, if it stopped building roads, or never built them at all, we might be in a helluva fix. And there is that whole thing about a national currency . . . it would be hard to have an economy without money.

    By the way, no beef here with Mrs. Schmidt at all. She's new and learning the ropes.