The economy hit the headlines again this week for a predictable but still depressing reason: The temporary people-counting jobs created by the census are ending soon.

And the lack of much new private job creation to balance the loss of about 700,000 census jobs — 225,000 of them ended in just the past couple of weeks, and the rest will be over soon — is a major concern of the nation’s 26 Democratic governors. They were in Boston to attend the annual summer meeting of the National Governors Association.

Harkening back to Bill Clinton’s famous First Rule of Politics — “It’s the economy, stupid” — the governors held a private meeting with members of the administration, but it didn’t take long for some of the attendees to tell reporters what was on their minds.

With the nation’s official unemployment rate just under 10 percent (and the unofficial one that includes underemployed and discouraged workers considerably higher), there wasn’t much hesitation on the part of governors to tell questioning reporters that their top priority was jobs.

Of the nation’s 50 state chief executive posts, 37 are going before voters in November, 19 now held by Democrats and 18 by Republicans.

Significant concern was expressed to the president that the administration was allowing less-than-central issues (the primary example being Arizona’s pending immigration law) to distract from efforts to pass job-creating measures.

That was a concern, of course, because the Nov. 2 election is now less than four months away. The governors said that unless some significant economic improvement occurred quickly, their electoral chances would be considerably diminished.

And improvement, they said, didn’t mean a higher Dow Jones average on the New York Stock Exchange, but more of their constituents pulling down paychecks instead of unemployment benefits.

While the administration has floated various suggestions, ranging from tax credits for businesses that increase hiring to more federal aid to states to keep their payrolls from shrinking, there isn’t much time left for any federal moves to have much of an effect.

To politicians seeking office, that gap between promise and reality is a portent of potential disaster in the fall.


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