-- Economic growth, despite the ongoing restructuring in manufacturing, is still quite strong by any comparison. The Gross Domestic Product, the national measure of all goods and services the United States produces, has been racing along at about 4 percent a year. Forecasters see that settling down to 3.5 percent or more by year's end, still a robust economic pace.
-- National employment growth, despite storm-related nudges up and down, has remained relatively strong -- creating an average 200,000 jobs a month in the first seven months of the year and lesser amounts during a soft patch during the summer. Analysts expect job creation will continue to expand in the next year as growth continues its upward march, propelled in part by the Katrina recovery efforts that will pump a lot of investment into the economy.
-- All of this has boosted consumer confidence polls, a politically pivotal measure of what Americans think about the economy and their future.
The Conference Board, a blue-chip business research group, reported last week that consumer confidence has shot up by a bullish 16.1 percent.
That is still below its pre-Katrina mark, but nevertheless a healthy sign that people believe the U.S. economy is headed in the right direction -- which should improve Bush's economic job approval numbers.
Interviews with Hoover economists on the Stanford University campus elicit similar views about the U.S. economy's forward motion. It is one of the Bush presidency's strongest performances, outside of the response to the terrorist attacks, and deserves more public approval than it's received thus far. "I'd like to see the administration talk more about it and the role that the Bush tax cuts played in creating this astounding growth," said economist John Cogan.
Bragging has never been one of Bush's strong points, but he's entitled to do a little self-promotion on the economy's performance under his fiscal policies. It is on a higher trajectory, fueled by pro-growth, pro-investment tax cuts on income and capital that have lifted it into a higher orbit.
Another reason why we have every reason to feel optimistic about our financial future and what the Times calls the economy's "upbeat signs."