On the heels of the president's widely panned speech, a dreadful August jobs report was released this morning. The expectation was 125,00 to 130,000 new jobs; only 96,000 were added. Moreover, July and June job reports were adjusted downward. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported: “The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised from +64,000 to +45,000, and the change for July was revised from +163,000 to +141,000.”
If not for the lowest job participation rate in more than 30 years, the unemployment rate would be dramatically higher. But with another 368,000 dropping out of the job market, the unemployment rate went down to 8.1 percent. Without that dropoff, the rate would have been 8.4 percent. If we had the job participation rate that we had at the onset of President Obama’s term, the unemployment rate would be over 11 percent.
We can surmise that Obama’s lackluster performance last night was due in part to an early look at a jobs report that not even his most dogged media shills can spin. Mitt Romney put out a statement that read: “If last night was the party, this morning is the hangover. For every net new job created, nearly four Americans gave up looking for work entirely. This is more of the same for middle class families who are suffering through the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression. After 43 straight months of unemployment above 8%, it is clear that President Obama just hasn’t lived up to his promises and his policies haven’t worked. We aren’t better off than they were four years ago. My plan for a stronger middle class will create 12 million new jobs by the end of my first term. America deserves new leadership that will get our economy moving again.”
The job numbers will likely harden the perception that the president is in over his head. The voters do not see a “recovery.” A call for “more time” is unconvincing if one has the sense neither that four nor 40 years would make a difference under this president.
Romney will continue to hammer away at the president’s failures. But he would be wise to push (as he is doing in 15 new ads in eight states) his own plans for middle-class Americans, and most especially domestic energy development. Voters are certain things are bad; they now need to be reassured Romney will be better. With these jobs numbers the public might well conclude: How could he do any worse?