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Published: Saturday, 10/23/2004

Campaigns clash over Ohio job statistics

BY JAMES DREW
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS - As President Bush in Pennsylvania and John Kerry in Wisconsin exchanged attacks yesterday over national security, their campaigns in Ohio battled over the economy.

The Labor Department released the state-by-state jobs figures, with Ohio showing a net increase last month of 5,500, and Mr. Kerry's campaign was quick to pounce.

"If the Bush campaign thinks that these numbers suggest a good economy or an economy that has turned the corner, they just don't get it," said Roger Altman, economic adviser to Mr. Kerry's campaign. "At this rate, there won't be a net new job created in Ohio until the year 2014."

Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Mr. Bush's campaign, noted that more than 90 percent of Ohio's gross payroll job growth last month was in industries that typically pay more than the national average.

"Putting money back into the pockets of taxpayers and helping businesses invest and expand has put Ohio on the right track towards growth and prosperity," Mr. Madden said. "This election is essentially a choice between President Bush's plan to put more faith in the people of Ohio versus John Kerry's plan to put more faith in the federal government."

Ohio ranks only behind Michigan and New York in the number of jobs lost since March, 2001, at 219,500, said the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank based in Washington, D.C.

Ohio also ranks third - behind California and Texas - in the number of manufacturing jobs lost at 160,700 since 2001, the research group said.

Ohio's unemployment rate was 6.0 percent in September, down from 6.3 percent in August, according to the federal government. The nation's unemployment for September was 5.4 percent, the same as in August.

Since December, 2003, Ohio has gained 17,200 jobs, said U.S. Rep. Rob Portman (R., Cincinnati).

"Are we satisfied? No, and we will continue to pursue aggressive economic growth policies to help Ohio workers. But one thing we know for sure is that John Kerry's policies of higher taxes on small businesses, more regulations, and higher litigation costs will stop the progress we have made and destroy jobs in Ohio," Mr. Portman said in a written statement.

Democrats said Mr. Bush's campaign continued to misrepresent Mr. Kerry's economic platform.

Mr. Altman, who was deputy treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, said Mr. Kerry's policies would aid job creation by removing tax incentives for companies that shift jobs to other nations and then using that revenue to lower corporate tax rates, offering tax credits to company that create jobs, and lowering health care and energy costs.

Contact James Drew at:

jdrew@theblade.com

or 614-221-0496.



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