80,000 Jobs Added; Unemployment Stays 8.2%

By Kevin G. Hall; Curtis Tate | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), July 7, 2012 | Go to article overview

80,000 Jobs Added; Unemployment Stays 8.2%


Kevin G. Hall; Curtis Tate, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


WASHINGTON - A third consecutive anemic monthly jobs report Friday from the Labor Department signals trouble for the U.S. economy and could hurt the re-election prospects of President Obama.

Employers added a weaker-than-expected 80,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate held steady at 8.2 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

Consensus economic forecasts had called for growth of 100,000 jobs or higher for the month, given that previous months were thought to have been skewed by weather trends, bad news out of Europe about its debt crisis and statistical adjustments.

Adding to the expectations, a closely watched gauge of private- sector hiring had suggested a day earlier that 176,000 jobs were created in June, setting the bar high for the official government report.

Instead, June looked a lot like May and April, and the three months together combined for a weak quarter in which job growth averaged about 76,000 a month, compared with 226,000 during the first three months of the year.

Since most economists have been forecasting a slower second half of 2012 because of electioneering and a congressional fight over extending expiring tax cuts, there's little momentum heading into an anticipated rough patch.

And that could prove to be bad news for the president's hopes for another four years in office.

"In the end, these presidential elections tend to be a referendum on the incumbent president," said Sarah Binder, a political science professor at George Washington University. "The bulk of voters' decisions come down to the state of the national economy." Binder said that even if the economy came roaring back after Labor Day, it might be too late to help Obama.

"Some of it's already baked in," she said.

The harsh truth for the White House is this: The average of 76,000 jobs over the past three months amounts to about half the 150,000 monthly new jobs that economists think are necessary to take into account new entrants into the workforce and still knock down the jobless rate.

"The good news is that employment growth is not slowing further, but there is no sign of it picking up either. …

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80,000 Jobs Added; Unemployment Stays 8.2%
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