Vot­ers go to polls against back­drop of un­even econ­omy

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD - By Christo­pher S. Ru­gaber

WASH­ING­TON >> The U.S. econ­omy is lift­ing job growth and wages but not vot­ers’ spir­its.

Amer­i­cans are choos­ing a pres­i­dent against a back­drop of slow but steady growth that has man­aged to re­store the econ­omy from the crush­ing set­back of the Great Re­ces­sion. The govern­ment’s Oc­to­ber jobs re­port , re­leased Fri­day, showed that hir­ing re­mains solid, with 161,000 jobs added. The un­em­ploy­ment rate is a low 4.9 per­cent.

Yet the re­cov­ery, the slow­est since World War II, has left many Amer­i­cans feel­ing left be­hind, es­pe­cially those who lack high skills or ed­u­ca­tion or who live out­side ma­jor pop­u­la­tion cen­ters.

“The (typ­i­cal) U.S. house­hold is in a much bet­ter spot than they were eight years ago,” said Mark Zandi, chief econ­o­mist at Moody’s An­a­lyt­ics. “But it hasn’t been a great decade for any­one ei­ther. You’ve still got a big chunk of the pop­u­la­tion who feels this hasn’t worked for them.”

The econ­omy’s weak spots are a top con­cern for a ma­jor­ity of vot­ers, who say the U.S. econ­omy is in poor shape, ac­cord­ing to an As­so­ci­ated Press-GfK poll.

At the same time, they say their own per­sonal fi­nances are good.

Fifty-three per­cent of vot­ers say the econ­omy is “poor,” while 46 per­cent say “good,” ac­cord­ing to the poll, con­ducted Oct. 20-24. Yet 65 per­cent say their own fi­nances are good, ver­sus 34 per­cent who rate them poor.

Seventy-three per­cent of Hil­lary Clin­ton sup­port­ers say that econ­omy is good; just 16 per­cent of Don­ald Trump sup­port­ers say so.

And while 60 per­cent of whites say the econ­omy is poor, 60 per­cent of non­whites call it good. Yet whites and non­whites are about equally likely to say their own per­sonal fi­nances are good.

Con­sider 73-year-old Charles Muller, who lives out­side Tren­ton, New Jer­sey, and de­scribes his per­sonal fi­nances as fine. He has a pen­sion from 26 years as a state em­ployee and re­ceives So­cial Se­cu­rity.

But the broader econ­omy seems fairly weak to Muller. A friend was laid off dur­ing the re­ces­sion, then earned a teach­ing cer­tifi­cate, and yet still can’t find a full­time teach­ing job. And a friend’s daugh­ter who re­cently grad­u­ated from col­lege is stuck as an as­sis­tant man­ager of a dol­lar store.

“I know a lot of peo­ple who are strug­gling and have been un­able to find jobs com­men­su­rate with their ed­u­ca­tion lev­els,” Muller said. He is sup­port­ing Trump, though he sees the ma­jor pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nees as “the two worst can­di­dates I’ve ever been given a choice of.”

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