The U.S. added a meager 80,000 jobs in June, the government reported Friday, falling short of market and analysts' expectations and showing that the labor market cooled off considerably in the second quarter.
Unemployment stayed the same, at 8.2%.
The numbers, though stable, show that the economy has not tremendously improved, providing new talking points for both Republicans and Democrats in election 2012. The biggest political debate this election cycle will be how America can pull itself out of the Great Recession. How to create jobs, jobs, jobs and more jobs will be the centerpiece policy that will define the campaigns of the incumbent Barack Obama, and his GOP rival Mitt Romney ahead of November’s general election.
U.S. employers were expected to have added between 90,000 and 125,000 new jobs. The current 80,000 number is tepid, but it’s still better than the jobs created in May, which was the fewest in a year.
The number of new jobs created in May was revised up to 77,000 from an original estimate of 69,000, while April's figure was revised down to 68,000 from 77,000. The biggest gains in June occurred in the fields of professional services (47,000), health care (13,000) and manufacturing (11,000). Yet the private sector only added 84,000 jobs in total. The average workweek last month rose 0.1 hour to 34.5, while average hourly earnings climbed 6 cents to $23.50.
The unemployment rate has been stuck at around 8%, leaving many Americans squeamish about the trajectory of the economy. Romney and Obama have been seeking to gain political capital from any economic news.
Obama, though, has felt the heat of a spiraling economy during the last three summers of his presidency. In each of the past three summers, the unemployment rate has bumped upwards while the job creation numbers have either leveled off or dipped downward. That trend — plus the fact that we are 123 days before the election — makes the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ announcement of the utmost political importance.
A look back at the past few summers reveals how tough it has been for Obama:
On the job creation front, the economy added 193,000 jobs in April 2010 but dipped to add 84,000, 92,000 and 92,000 in May, June and July 2010, respectively. By August 2010, that number bumped up to 128,000 jobs created.
The story was similar in the summer 2011. In April 2011, the economy added 264,000 jobs. In May, 108,000 jobs were created, while just 102,000 were added in June. The July 2011 jobs report showed 175,000 jobs added, but that number dipped drastically to 52,000 jobs created in August.
Romney is looking for more political momentum, especially after his better-than-expected June fundraising figures. The Romney camp released its June fundraisers numbers yesterday afternoon and reported a haul of $100 million, their biggest month yet and beating its own projections for the month.
Friday’s jobs report looks to be the icing on the cake for Romney.