NEWS BLOG (WSAU) A man who weighs 400-pounds was told by his doctor that he’d need to lose weight, or he’d die. He ate a little less. He moved a little more. A month later, he’d lost two pounds.
The statistics say the dieter made a small step in the right direction.
When he looks in the mirror, he can’t see it.
That’s what’s happening with the economy. The statistics say we’re growing. The problem is our current growth rate (1.5-percent GDP for the second quarter of 2012) is so slow that it’s not perceivable.
1.5-percent growth doesn’t create any jobs. What employment it does create is uneven, with jobless rates bouncing down one month and up the next. For someone actively looking for employment, their city and their job sector looks just as bleak as before. Meanwhile thousands of new college graduates find their degrees have little immediate impact on their employment chances.
A big part of the election will hinge on whether voters believe the stats or what they see around them. The stats say very slow growth – but growth nonetheless. The reality is that trips to the supermarket are more expensive, the number of people out of work is high, and uncertainty (which kills the confidence that’s needed for consumers to spend) is ever-present both in tax rates for 2013 and the impact of healthcare reform.
It’s clear the ‘believe your eyes’ side of the argument is winning. Even the White House issued a statement today saying growth was unacceptably slow, and blaming congress for blocking parts of the President’s agenda. If I were to play the role of campaign strategist, I’d recommend a page from Ronald Reagan’s playbook. Look into the camera and say ‘Are you better off today than you were four years ago?’ If the answer sways votes, the current administration has a big problem.