Our view: Job report still isn’t heartening
July 9, 2012 4:56PM
THE FIRST AMENDMENT
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Updated: August 11, 2012 6:06AM
The latest jobless figures are bad news for both candidates, the economy and the American work force.
The unemployment rate for June was unchanged at 8.2 percent, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Friday, making it 41 straight months at which it’s been 8 percent or higher.
The labor force grew by 189,000, but the economy created only 80,000 new jobs. June was the third straight month of weak hiring, an average of only 75,000 a month for the quarter.
It’s especially disappointing because the year started on such a promising note: 226,000 new jobs a month for the first quarter.
President Barack Obama, whose administration predicted a 5.6 percent jobless rate by now when his stimulus bill passed, offered only the weak observation that the June figures were “a step in the right direction.”
If Federal Reserve forecasts hold, Obama will have to campaign throughout the fall with the jobless rate stuck about where it is now. Republican Mitt Romney called the rate “unacceptably high” and blamed it on Obama’s failed policies.
But Romney has been unable to gain traction with his self-depiction as a “job creator,” and his economic program — a grab bag of tax cuts, cheaper energy and getting tough with the Chinese — has been greeted with yawns.
Meanwhile, labor-force participation is hovering around a 30-year low of 63.8 percent, and the underemployment rate — which many believe is a more accurate barometer of the job market — is at 14.9 percent. That number includes workers who aren’t looking for a job, but would like one, and part-time workers who would like to work full time.
There are potentially disturbing elements on the economic horizon. The European debt crisis could worsen, hurting the market for America exports.
Congress could take the country over what the Fed calls the “fiscal cliff” if it fails to deal with the expiring tax cuts and deep, across-the-board spending cuts that are supposed to kick in automatically on Jan. 2.
Scripps Howard News Service