President Obama got more bad political news today from the Labor Department, which reported that the unemployment rate edged up another tenth of a percentage point last month to 9.2 percent, as employers added only another 18,000 jobs.
The addition of 18,000 jobs is effectively a loss, since the economy must generate about 125,000-150,000 jobs a month to keep pace with the expansion of the work force population.
The employment numbers are far worse than expected. Many economists had expected a gain of over 100,000 jobs last month and thought the unemployment rate would remain at 9.1 percent.
Meanwhile, job increases recorded in previous months were revised downward to 25,000 in May and 217,000 in April.
The bad news on the employment front makes it increasingly likely that the unemployment rate will remain above 8 percent by Election Day – a level viewed as kind of a magic number since Obama aides predicted the stimulus measure of early 2009 would keep the rate below it.
Expect Obama during an appearance this morning in the Rose Garden to focus, as he has for months, on private sector employers, who added 57,000 jobs in June. Private sector hiring has been more robust than government hiring, which has particularly suffered as states and localities slash their payrolls.
And he’ll note that jobs have been created – however few of them – for many months in a row.
But the Rose Garden happy talk cannot obscure the politically damaging fact that two and a half years into a presidency that was supposed to be devoted to righting the economy, unemployment is rising, not falling.