The new unemployment figures for June 2012 were just released, and just 80,000 new jobs were created last month, bringing headaches both for the working public and the President in his bid for re-election.
As the Washington Post puts it:
During the first quarter of 2012, employers added an average of 226,000 jobs a month, the Labor Department said. But job creation slowed in the second quarter to an average of 75,000 a month — far below the level that is needed to make a dent in the unemployment rate….
The number of people officially labeled unemployed held steady at 12.7 million, and the number of people who have been out of work for more than six months remained at 5.4 million, accounting for nearly 42 percent of the overall unemployed.
And Republican analyst Ed Rogers writes in the Post, “In presidential election years since 1980, when the number of jobs added in June totaled less than 81,000, the incumbent lost or the White House changed parties.” The title of his piece is “The Bad Job Numbers are Obama’s Fault.” Whether or not they’re interpreted as such is the big political question these days upon which the election may hinge.
For years, the President focused on job growth in the private sector, even as the loss of public-sector jobs at the state, local and federal level dragged the numbers down. The conundrum is that the GOP is not interested in creating public sector jobs, but the President did not strongly challenge the effect that de-emphasizing public employment would have on a recovering economy. Now, if the President focuses on the massive job losses under President George W. Bush, it seems like an argument that should have been made earlier in the Obama Presidency. But if he does not contextualize the jobs losses and the effect of policies pushed by the GOP to cut public employment, then any rationale for why the bad jobs numbers are not his administration’s fault are weak.
Race is always a complicating factor, and the employment situation in the black community could depress turnout. Says the U.C. Berkeley Labor Center:
The unemployment rate for Blacks was 14.4 percent last month. This is according to the latest report on the nation’s employment situation released Friday morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its monthly Employment Situation report. This rate was an increase from May, when unemployment in the Black community stood at 13.6 percent. For the nation as a whole, unemployment was 8.2 percent in the month of June; this was unchanged from May when the national unemployment rate stood at 8.2 percent. Among whites, unemployment was 7.4 percent; among Latinos, unemployment was 11.0 percent. Comparable May 2012 figures were 7.4 percent and 11.0 percent respectively. Overall, total non-farm payroll employment increased by 80,000 jobs from last month.