Thursday, March 12, 2009

Unemployment: An interesting trend

I noticed an interesting trend the other day, as I was researching unemployment rates in the U.S.
See if you can notice a trend in these two images: Here and Here.
Obviously, this isn't an in-depth scientific study, and the statistical analysis is rendered imperfect by the flaws in the electoral vote system. But it sure seems like the most left-leaning states are the ones with the worst unemployment rates. I can think of a few possible explanations for this:
  1. People tend to vote for change when the economy is weak, regardless of who is in power. Maybe since these states were hit the hardest by the economic downturn, their citizens were more prone to vote for the "other party."
  2. Liberal legislation puts more government spending toward taking care of the jobless. Perhaps people in states with higher unemployment rates feel safer with liberals in power, because they'll be better cared-for if they lose their job.
  3. Liberal legislation favors public welfare over businesses. Perhaps the political environment of these states makes jobs harder to create, or makes it so that people aren't as motivated to get a job.
So it basically boils down to:
  1. People in struggling economies tend to vote for the "other guy," OR
  2. People in struggling economies tend to vote for liberals, OR
  3. Liberal policies are worse for the economy.
I'm sure there are lots of folks who would love to debate endlessly about which of these possibilities is true. But just as an exercise in theory, let's explore the consequences of the first two (the consequences of number 3 are obvious).

If you assume that the number 1 priority of elected officials is to get re-elected (a bit simplistic, but bear with me), would it make more sense for liberals in office to strengthen the economy, or to further expand welfare for the unemployed?

On the one hand, if the economy improves, people wouldn't be as interested in voting for the "other guy." On the other hand, if unemployment goes back down, people would feel more comfortable voting for conservatives. Catch 22.
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