The Norman Transcript

Opinion

September 30, 2012

Jobless numbers poseproblem for incumbents

NORMAN — Relatively high unemployment poses a problem for any president seeking re-election. Voters often vote their pocketbooks and the thinner the wallet, the easier it is to push someone out of office.

The national unemployment rate continues above 8 percent. New figures are scheduled to be released Friday but few analysts expect any October surprises. The 8.1 rate for August was down slightly from July.

About 12.5 million workers remain jobless. Forty percent are considered long-term unemployed, meaning they have been without work for 27 weeks or longer. Some speculate the numbers are higher with many dropping off the rolls. Many of those jobs won’t come back.

History says no president has been re-elected with an unemployment rate above 7.1 percent. But a CNN political correspondent told a University of Oklahoma audience this week that may not be the case this election cycle.

Veteran political correspondent Candy Crowley said most voters have already figured in high unemployment in their presidential preference. Voters are concerned about the economy but not necessarily unemployment.

To that end, the numbers are looking up slightly. Housing prices rebounded a bit last month and consumers showed strong spending patterns. The Associated Press reports Americans spent more in August even though their income barely grew. Much of the increase was driven by higher gasoline prices.

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