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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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June 16, 2004

Finally, an upturn

Wednesday’s story on the local economy seems to ring true. A man I know in the computer industry who had been out of work for a long time has just got a job.

Today I was talking to Roland Dewhurst, the CEO of Associated General Contractors, a trade association whose revenues are based on its members’ revenues. AGC’s revenues are growing at a rate between 5 and 10 percent. The state of Washington has a new state revenue forecast out Thursday, and it will be up-not by a whole lot, but up.

Usually when this happens, the trend sticks. When the economy starts recovering, it keeps growing for a long time, because people respond to what other people do. No guarantees, of course: if America is attacked by al Qaida and goes into security overdrive, confidence will shatter. Dewhurst said he thought the upturn in big-ticket construction “is very tenuous.”

What does all this imply for how well President Bush is doing on the economy? Not much. I don’t think the job of the president has much to do with trends in private employment, and when it does have an effect it’s difficult to estimate what it is. In Bush’s case, cutting taxes probably helped and the war probably hurt.

But the main reason for an upturn, it seems to me, is that it has been almost three years since an al Qaida attack on U.S. territory, interest rates are at rock-bottom levels, and people have been sitting on plans. Some of them decided it was time to move before the rates went up.

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Posted by Bruce Ramsey at June 16, 2004 05:00 PM



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