Donald Lambro
How is it possible that Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney on who can better handle the economy when it's been in decline all year?

Economists on both sides say this is one of the weakest recoveries since the Great Depression. New York Times economic columnist Paul Krugman, one of Obama's early supporters, said, "This is still a terrible economy."

The overall economy barely grew by 1.7 percent in the second quarter, down from 2.0 percent in the first three months of 2012. Business economists have lowered their forecasts to 1.5 percent or lower for the year. The Federal Reserve Board says it will keep its interest rates at near-zero for the foreseeable future, because they expect it to remain in a weakened condition for several years to come.

Most Americans do not follow the economic data that diagnoses the economy's ups and downs.They know what their economic circumstances are. Yet political pollsters and reporters doing voter canvasing tell of interviews with people who say they've been out of work for months who still say they're voting for Obama.

Most get their economic news from the nightly network shows, but the people who produce these programs bend over backwards to report as little as possible about the levels of economic deprivation that characterize Obama's presidency.

Did you see the story on NBC News with Brian Williams last week about how unemployment rose in more than half the states in August? Of course not, because he didn't report it.

Nevertheless, in the fourth insufferable year of Obama's term in office, the unemployment rate climbed in 26 states, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Five were battleground states that will probably decide this election and where Obama, improbably, is leading Romney.

Unemployment was unchanged in the battlegrounds of Ohio, Virginia and in Florida, where the jobless rate nears 9 percent.

BLS also reports that the number of working Americans shrank last month as payrolls fell in 21 states, the result of tens of millions of discouraged workers who have stopped looking for a job and are no longer counted.

Yet there was President Obama still telling CBS's "60 Minutes" on Sunday that the economy was moving in the right direction. "We're moving forward," he repeatedly says on the campaign trail.

But by virtually every major economic measurement, we've been falling backward over the past four years, not moving forward.

For example, did you see the story on the nightly news about how median income has fallen between 2010 and 2011? You didn't because it wasn't reported.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.