Last week the Los Angeles Times ran an interesting story highlighting the conflict between the messages delivered by Republican governors in the key swing states of Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin and the theme of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Governors Kasich, McDonnell and Walker all spoke at the Republican National Convention and emphasized the economic turnarounds experienced by their states under Republican leadership. The Los Angeles Times reported that the talk of job creation and falling unemployment rates in these three states “delighted” President Obama’s re-election team.
Last night five Democratic mayors, from Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, Newark and San Antonio spoke at the Democratic National Convention. Four of these five metropolitan areas have unemployment rates above the national average of 8.3%. The only metropolitan area of the five with an unemployment rate below the national average is San Antonio with an unemployment rate of 7.3%. (The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports unemployment by metropolitan area not cities themselves.)
Taken together, these five metropolitan areas have a combined labor force of nearly 14.5 million workers, and 1.43 million of them are unemployed. This puts the aggregate unemployment rate for the metropolitan areas represented by the Democratic mayors who spoke last night at 9.9%.
It wasn’t always this way. In 2007 the unemployment rate in all of these metro areas was below 5%. Fewer than 675,000 workers were unemployed in the combined metro areas in 2007, for an aggregate unemployment rate of 4.7%.
Will the Los Angeles Times recognize the conflict between the President’s re-election campaign message and the plight of the millions of unemployed, underemployed and discouraged workers in cities governed by Democratic mayors? Perhaps not because only one of the cities (Charlotte) highlighted at yesterday’s DNC is in a swing state.
Given the electoral map, the Presidential campaign is likely to pass by many people suffering from the steep recession of 2007-2009 and the weak recovery of the past three years. I suspect that voters in these cities and states are looking for solutions from their mayors, governors and elected representatives, whether they are Democrat or Republican, and are less concerned with assigning blame for our economic woes.