America will decide today whether it wants to give President Barack Obama another four years to fix the economy or whether it’d rather hand over the keys to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
And one state that will help make this decision is Ohio, the Buckeye State.
“This election is all about Ohio: without Ohio, Romney’s winning chances plummet,” writers at Zero Hedge note.
They’re probably right.
The state carries with it 18 electoral votes and no Republican since 1862 has won without it. It’s possible that Romney can win the election without Ohio, but it’s not likely. This isn’t a secret. Indeed, with an enormous amount of time and money, Team Obama has done everything it can to keep the state blue.
And as an ongoing part of his “Re-elect Me” message to Ohioans, President Obama has regularly highlighted what Zero Hedge refers to as the state’s “unemployment rate miracle.”
“[I]n September, the Ohio unemployment dipped to 7.0%, the lowest since September 2008!” the Hedge notes.
However, as is often the case, there is more to this story.
“On the surface, a tremendous metric and great improvement for a state that would have certainly been firmly in the pro-GOP camp had Obama not been able to hammer on this statistic time and time again,” the Hedge writes.
“Yet … the unemployment rate is only part of the story. The bigger question is whether or not another data set is being fudged to make the Ohio jobs situation appear better than it is in real life. The answer is, predictably, yes,” the report adds.
As the below chart clearly illustrates, while the unemployment rate in Ohio has “improved” since 2008, the labor force participation rate has plummeted to 63.6 percent, its lowest point since 1984. Get that? Ohio’s unemployment rate has only improved because more people have left the workforce:
“[O]nce the pre-election ‘data nudging’ ends,” Zero Hedge warns, “and the LFP [Labor Force Participation rate] is allowed to reflect reality, watch as the Ohio unemployment rate explodes to over 10%, which is what its fair value is according at least to the participation rate.”
“But by then the game of pre-election optics will be over, and Ohioans will realize that promises, propaganda and reality never, ever coexist peacefully,” the report adds.
And in case you don’t believe the folks at Zero Hedge, here’s a BloombergBriefs report that backs up their claim:
The state of Ohio is seen as pivotal in the election. The size of the labor force in Ohio, which once was home to a vibrant manufacturing industry, has declined by about 85,000 workers over the past four years. The unemployment rate of 7 percent is below the national rate of 7.9 percent, probably because some people stopped looking for work and are not counted as unemployed. The labor force participation rate is 63.6 percent in both the U.S. and Ohio, indicating a “real unemployment rate” of something closer to 10 percent.
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Front page photo source courtesy the AP. This story has been updated.