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Pocketbook Juices Flowing

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 22, 2004 | Go to article overview

Pocketbook Juices Flowing


Byline: Donald Lambro, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

America's long-brewing recovery finally seems to be boosting President Bush's economic job approval numbers, and eroding Sen. John Kerry's No. 1 domestic issue.

No matter how often the Massachusetts liberal flogs the number of jobs that have been lost over the past three years, he can't overcome the fact economic growth rates are climbing and unemployment is steadily sinking.

It has taken awhile for this trend to soak into the electorate's consciousness, partly due to the national news media's unbalanced, Depression-era reporting on the economy. But there can be no doubt now that Americans are beginning to feel more confident about their future economic security - especially on the jobs front.

Among the latest signs of a turnaround in public opinion: In a recent Associated Press poll, only 18 percent of those surveyed mentioned the economy as their chief worry, down from 31 percent a year ago.

The National Annenberg Election Survey reports the "percentage of people saying the Bush administration's policies made the economy worse fell from 41 percent in late March to 36 percent in April. The share saying the policies had made the economy better rose from 26 percent to 30 percent."

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Tuesday also reported a similar turnaround on the economy among registered voters: 26 percent now say the economy and jobs will be the single most important issue in shaping their vote, down sharply from 36 percent who said this last month.

This great news for Mr. Bush is, in my opinion, for good reasons. Housing construction, homeownership rates, manufacturing orders, tax-cut-spurred consumer spending and retail sales are all up. All this has encouraged top business economists to raise their growth forecasts from 4 percent to 5 percent for the first three months of this year and to predict that new job growth (308,000 in March) will continue throughout 2004 and very likely beyond.

In another sign of the economy's staying power, the Conference Board reported Monday its Composite Index of Leading Economic Indicators - which forecasts economic trends over the next three to six months - rose 0.3 percent. Among its findings: increased manufacturing orders for consumer goods and a sharp rise in home building permits.

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