This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," May 25, 2004, that was edited for clarity.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: As states are seeing the black, what about Uncle Sam? Let’s ask the commerce secretary of these United States, Don Evans.
Secretary, a pleasure. Thank you.
DON EVANS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: Thank you, Neil. Good to be with you, as always.
CAVUTO: When we see states all of a sudden that were in the red, in the black, I know guessing deficits and surpluses is a fool’s game, and I never got into it because I am a fool. But I wonder now, given these improving state numbers, whether we’ll see more of that in Washington. What do you think?
EVANS: Well, you know, Neil, we have very good numbers in Washington right now, as you know. I mean, the economy has been growing strong over the last 12 months, has grown at some 4.9 percent over the last 12 months, which is the strongest growth in some 20 years. And so I think we’ll continue to have encouraging economic news coming out of Washington, including continuing good jobs numbers, as you have been seeing over the last number of months.
We have created about 1.1 million jobs since August. And of course we have had a couple of really good months in a row. But it’s not surprising to see the states also starting to see some very good numbers.
CAVUTO: But are you concerned -- and we have raised this before, Secretary -- that, clearly, I think even objective analysis of the data would confirm what you are saying, that the numbers are improving, pretty much across the board. But Americans, when they are polled on this very subject, do not feel that way.
EVANS: Well, you know, Neil, that is why I’m glad to be on your show, so I can continue to be out there telling the American people the real positive news about our economy. Personal disposable income is up 4.3 percent over the last 12 months. That is higher growth rate than in the 1970s or the 1980s or the 1990s.
Unemployment, as I’ve said before, is below the average of the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s. So there’s lots of very good economic news to continue to communicate to the people all across America. That is why I’m delighted to have this opportunity to do it.
You know, most Americans don’t realize right now we are employing more American workers ever in our history. Never have we employed more American workers than we are right now. About 138 million American workers are working today.
CAVUTO: But are you troubled, Secretary, that, you know, we had an improvement in the father’s economy, too, at this point in 1992, and it registered a little too late for Americans to reflect it in the polls that year? Are you worried the son suffers the same fate?
EVANS: No, I’m not, Neil. Listen, I think the American people, as they will continue to feel this strong economy -- and not only feel it, I mean, they are acting on it. I mean, we had the second highest number of home sales reported today -- this last month, 6.64 million home sales. The first quarter of this year, retail sales were at a record.
So, you know, the consumers are -- feel confident, they feel good about the economy. Consumer confidence was up a little bit today, as you know. And I think this will continue to feed its way through the households of America. And more and more families will feel good about this economy.
CAVUTO: The wildcard, Secretary, as you know in all of this, is another terrorist incident. And we are getting reports now out of some law enforcement officials that they think something big could happen again. Of course, this is all conjecture, there is never a way to ascertain it.
But that is the wildcard for the economy, is it not? It ultimately comes down to another potential incident?
EVANS: Well, Neil, listen, I’m not going to speculate on that other than to say that is why the president is so focused on this war against terrorism. He knows that you cannot have economic security without national security. Because the president has been so steady and so focused and so clear as to the war against terrorism, we are safer and more secure in America today than we would have been.
And we are going to continue to fight this war against terror. And we’re going to win it, because -- because that is what is required to have economic security here in America.
CAVUTO: All right. Secretary Evans, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir.
EVANS: Thank you, Neil.
CAVUTO: Don Evans, the commerce secretary of the United States.
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