As industries drive America, the fanbelt of the US presidential election is the economy. So how will the Midwest state of Ohio vote?
Ohioans build a lot of vehicles, and they were glad to see October sales rise by seven percent – the best news they’ve heard since 2007. But they can’t be certain that will last – and many aren’t sure who to vote for so that those who are in jobs can keep them.
Just below Ohio is Michigan, another state which might vote Democrat or Republican. In the city of Flint, they’ve been making cars since 1904. Times have certainly changed, but they are resolutely optimistic.
Auto worker Tony McMillan said: “These things aren’t cheap. They are heavy duty trucks. They are expensive. They are meant to last for a long time, so the fact that they are selling and we are working three shifts, putting out 250 trucks a night, that says a lot about where our economy is going.”
But Flint is also one of several cities where the state has special overseers whose job it is to avoid a financial emergency, as it is running a heavy deficit.
It has laid off dozens of police officers, and slashed some public sector salaries by 20-30 percent.
A visit to an administrative centre shows it operating on a skeleton staff.
The Flint fire-fighters’ union was one of those committed to fundraising for labour initiatives and to protect workers’ families.
A lot more people have got to know the food bank in Fredericksburg, Virginia, southeast of Michigan – this is also a swing state. Unemployment is below six percent here, below the national average, but, not far from the national capital, it’s clear that wages are being spread thin.
Fredericksburg Food Bank President Oya Oliver said: “We have had, overall, about a 31% increase in all the services that we provide.”
Even in Bucks County, in Pennsylvania, where until a few years ago median family incomes were among the nation’s better, making ends meet has become a challenge for many.
A woman returning home from a food bank in Bucks said: “By the time your bills are paid, and you know, there is not much left over to buy what you need.”
In Georgetown, Washington DC, stores find they have to move far more product just to earn the same as in the previous year.
Haberdasher Alex Brown said: “We’ve had a sale on since last year, of stuff we used to sell for, let’s say, a hundred dollars. Now three of them [such as ties] go for one hundred dollars. And that cuts into our profit margin. So it’s really hard to stay in business.”
Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio are key states whose electoral votes the presidential candidates are keen to secure, offering reassurance for people’s futures.