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  Politics and Elections
March 11, 2004
Economic recovery update
There are several articles out that highlight the current economic recovery and paint a positive outlook on the only remaining sticking point:  job creation.  The Washington Post reported last week that manufacturing is up and CEOs say their companies are more inclined to expand their payrolls.  Reinforcing that sentiment, this article reports that Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is confident strong job creation is just a matter of time.  Finally, consumer spending continues to chug along at a healthy pace, yet another sign that jobs can't be far behind.

Manufacturing.  This sector of the economy has been hardest hit over the last few years, so this report is especially encouraging:
According to the Fed report, factory activity rose in 11 of the 12 regional Fed districts.  In the Fed's Cleveland region, factory activity didn't go up, but rather held steady.
Manufacturing is on the rebound.  Even in the Ohio area, where jobs have been decimated, we may have seen the bottom.  This could be a significant development for the President as he fends off what is sure to be a strong Democratic offensive to take this vital battleground state. 

Spending.  Consumer spending, despite declines in consumer confidence, remains robust. Strong spending will eventually lead to new jobs as companies max out productivity gains.
America's shoppers showed more energy in February and boosted sales at the nation's retailers by 0.6 percent, a hopeful sign for healthy economic growth in the current quarter.

The increase reported by the Commerce Department on Thursday came after sales rose by a revised 0.2 percent gain in January, typically a slow month for retailers.  January's modest increase turned out to be a much better showing than the 0.3 percent decline reported a month ago.  (emphasis added)

Spending is the lifeblood of our economy and the fertilizer for new job growth.  This report, especially the revised January figures, demonstrates that consumer spending is now in a sustained period of strength.

Jobs.  Jobs, jobs, jobs.  From the way the media portray it, one is led to believe our very existence as a society hinges on whether job creation begins in earnest.  Well, both a panel of CEOs and the Fed Chief believe such job growth is just around the corner.  On the survey of CEOs:
The association said the March survey was the first since the fall of 2002 that a larger share of executives planned to add to payrolls rather than cut them.

"America's CEOs believe that the U.S. economy is on course for continued steady improvement over the next six months," said Henry A. McKinnell, chairman of the Business Roundtable and Pfizer Inc.'s chairman and chief executive.

And from Chairman Greenspan:
"As our economy exhibits increasing signals of recovery, jobs loss continues to diminish," he told the House Education and Workforce Committee.  "In all likelihood, employment will begin to increase more quickly before long."
So, the hardest hit sector of our economy, manufacturing, is looking up; the largest driving force in our economy, consumer spending, is on cruise control; and the prospect of substantial job growth appears to be very positive.  Unless something unexpected happens to drastically alter the economic climate, we are in for an extended recovery.  This fits perfectly into Bush's re-election plans.

posted by Scott Elliott at 5:30pm 03/11/04 ::
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