The Economic Recovery: Are You Feeling It? (Editorial)

Bill Clinton, speaking at the Democratic National Convention in September, told his financially shell-shocked listeners that if they hired Barack Obama to a second term as president, “you will feel it.” He could make that assurance with the same certainty that Obama’s Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, could promise to create 12 million new jobs over four years: The recovery of the U.S. economy from the worst crisis in the memory of anyone under about 75 was inevitable.

So are you feeling it?

The announcement on an eerily warm Tuesday of a shiny new $1.1 billion steel plant to be built at Osceola feels like recovery. More than 500 jobs paying average wages of $75,000 feels like a life-changing development for residents of northeast Arkansas, and not just those lucky enough to land jobs with Big River Steel LLC.

And while we are too smart to count chickens that have yet to hatch, the prospect feels like long-view investment not just in the steel industry but in the American manufacturing sector that uses steel — automotive, oil and gas, electrical energy, etc.

As Gov. Mike Beebe was announcing the Big Catch of Big River, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was reaching its highest point since October 2007 and coming within an eyelash of setting a new all-time high. That feels good, too, as did the encouraging word on leading economic indicators from the Conference Board late last month.

GDP contracted a smidge in the fourth quarter, and unemployment in Arkansas ticked up in December but we’re not ready to call those trends.

So yes, we’re feeling something and most of it feels better. None of it has to do with re-electing President Obama, but the election has encouraged action in the U.S. Senate on comprehensive immigration reform, an economic issue that has languished far too long.

Maybe more than the inevitable recovery is breaking loose at last.