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President Obama Positive Despite Weak Figures
2012-07-06 16:04:30 (216 weeks ago)
Posted By: Intellpuke
U.S. President Barack Obama acknowledged that the U.S. economy needs to grow faster to boost employment after new figures showed that only 80,000 new jobs were added in June, leaving the unemployment rate stuck stubbornly at 8.2%.

While President Obama told a campaign rally in Ohio that the figures were a "step in the right direction", his Republican challenger Mitt Romney leaped on the news to attack the president's handling of the economy. He described the unemployment report as a "kick in the gut".

Revealing weak hiring for the third consecutive month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said the unemployment situation was "essentially unchanged" from the previous month, with unemployment at 12.7 million. The underlying figure, which takes account of factors such as people who are in part-time work but want full-time work, is marginally worse, up from 14.8% to 14.9%.

The figures are a disappointment for the White House, confirming a slowdown in the economy after an improvement in jobs in the first quarter. The economy has now experienced the worst quarter for jobs growth in two years, leaving President Obama facing the prospect of having to defy history: no president has won re-election with unemployment above 8% since the Great Depression.

The report prompted speculation that the Federal Reserve will now take action to boost the recovery by launching a third round of quantitative easing.

(story continues below)

Last month, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said he was prepared to act to sustain the labor market, and many expect an announcement either before or at the next meeting of the federal open market committee on July 31.

Speaking at a campaign rally in Ohio on Friday, President Obama attempted to put as positive a spin as he could on the the figures, saying that the U.S. had added 4.4 million new jobs over the last 28 months.

"But we can't be satisfied because our goal was never to just keep on working to get back to where we were in 2007," he said. "I want to get back to a time when middle-class families and those working to be in the middle class have some security. That's our goal."

He pleaded for more time, saying he had inherited the worst recession since the Great Depression and "we knew that turning it around was not going to happen overnight".

The risk for Obama is that voters will not give him the time. There are only four more months of unemployment figures left before the election, with the last on November 2, just four days before the election.

The Republicans seized on the figures to say President Obama's attempts to stimulate the economy over the last three and a half years had failed. Romney described the figures as "unacceptably high".

Speaking in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, Romney said: "There is a lot of misery in America today, and these numbers understate what people are feeling and the amount of pain which is occurring in middle-class America."

The report offers Romney an opportunity to go on the offensive over the economy after days in which he has been the target of criticism not only from Democrats but Republicans over his campaign's muddled response to last week's supreme court healthcare ruling.

Delving deeper into the figures, analysts had anticipated an increase of at least 90-95,000 new jobs, a fairly modest target. The figures were even lower than that. The average of 75,000 new jobs created in April, May and June contrasts badly with the 226,000 new jobs created in January, February and March this year.

Unemployment among black Americans rose to 14.4%, while the rate for Latino was unchanged but high at 11%. The unemployment rate for Latinos remains high but unchanged at 11%, while.

About one-third of the jobs gained in June were in temporary services. Manufacturing added 11,000, its ninth straight month of gains. The healthcare sector added 13,000 jobs and financial services gained 5,000. Retailers, transportation firms and the government all cut jobs.

Markets fell after the statistics were released at 8.30 am ET, though only modestly.

The one good piece of news in the figures for Obama was a slight increase in the number of professional and business jobs in June.

June 's figures came after similar modest rises in April and May. The figures for April were revised up and the figures for May down by the bureau of labor statistics Friday, basically cancelling each other out.

The White House's chairman of the council of economic advisers, Alan Krueger, like the president, attempted to put as good a spin on it as possible. "While the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, much more remains to be done to repair the damage from the financial crisis and deep recession that followed. ..... There are no quick fixes to the problems we face that were more than a decade in the making," said Krueger.

The Republican House speaker, John Boehner, seized on the figures as evidence that President Obama's stewardship of the economy had failed. "Today's report shows the private sector clearly isn't 'doing fine' and that President Obama's policies have failed. The president bet on a failed 'stimulus' spending binge that led to 41 months of unemployment above 8%," he said.

Intellpuke: You can read this article by Guardian Washington, D.C., Bureau Chief Ewen MacAskill in context here:

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