In Toledo, Ohio, and the rest of the country, economic recovery is in the eye of the beholder. Voters will decide in November whether they want to punish President Obama for an unemployment rate that remains too high (8.2 percent at last count).
Or they may choose to reward him for the improvement that has occurred since he took office amid global financial chaos in 2009. Either way, it's more important now for the President and Congress to work together to help create jobs, rather than engage in futile partisan finger-pointing about jobs that were lost.
Metro Toledo's current unemployment rate is nearly identical to the national figure -- a considerable decline since it hit 13.4 percent in May, 2009. Steubenville is Ohio's only metropolitan area whose jobless rate remains in double digits.
Even notoriously distressed Youngstown is now below the national average, with an 8 percent unemployment rate. Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus are doing even better.
In Ohio and Michigan, as across the nation, the percentage of people who have been unemployed for 15 weeks or longer is down. Of course, that could be a sign that many long-term unemployed people have given up looking for work.
In the Toledo area, signs of recovery continue to emerge. Chrysler Group LLC has had 27 straight months of year-over-year sales growth, buoyed by record sales of its Toledo-built Jeep Wrangler. Lucas County sales tax receipts for cars and trucks, new and used, were up 11.1 percent during the first six months of 2012 over the year-ago period.
Manufacturing, especially in the green-energy fields of renewable and bio-engineering, has improved. A recent Brookings Institution report says metro Toledo was one of the nation's top urban areas for exporting goods in 2010. The following year, Ohio's $46 billion of exports placed the state ninth in the country, according to the Ohio Manufacturers Association.
The slow recovery from the Great Recession tests everyone's patience. Private-sector employment has grown over the past 28 months, yet Brookings points out that payroll growth has not kept pace. Consumer spending remains weak, as does the housing market.
Last month's gains in private-industry jobs were offset by declines in public employment. Some 637,000 government jobs have been cut since 2008, including 49,000 over the past three months.
The jobs outlook isn't as bleak as it could be in this part of the country, given its legacy of distress. But the nation needs a lift, and the President and lawmakers of both parties would make the best case for their re-election in November by collaborating on job creation now.