They’re one of the most sought-after voting blocs, prevalent in swing states such as Ohio, but if today’s job numbers are any indication, working-class voters could still be very much up for grabs in this election.
That’s because as the country’s economy slowly improves, more people who traditionally work in manufacturing, logistics, or other professions that don’t require a college degree are increasingly dropping out of the labor force and giving up looking for work.
There were 11.7 million workers with less than a high school diploma in the labor force last September – now there are just 11.2 million, indicating that 500,000 people with less than a high school diploma have given up looking for jobs in a tough economy. Among people with a high school degree but no college, 663,000 people have dropped out of the labor force since a year ago and their participation rate has dropped from 60.5% to 59.5%.
By contrast, 1.5 million people with a bachelor’s degree or higher have rejoined the labor market since September 2011, indicating they are optimistic about their ability to find work.
Both President Obama and Mitt Romney have spent considerable resources targeting working-class voters as the election nears.
A new Romney ad shows him in a factory, talking directly to voters in Ohio. "The question Ohio families are asking is who can bring back the jobs? Under President Obama, we've lost over half a million manufacturing jobs,” he says. His running mate, Paul Ryan, has used a shuttered factory in his hometown of Janesville, Wis., to criticize Obama’s policies, although the factory was scheduled to be closed before Obama took office.