Updated at 9:47 a.m.
When the latest monthly employment report was released Friday morning, you can bet that the White House had a very close eye on it.
No, we're no longer in the midst of the 2012 presidential campaign, in which each report served as an important political marker in the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney, with both sides pointing to the unemployment rate as a sign of progress or failure. But the reality is that while the report doesn't get nearly as much attention -- at least not in a political context -- these days, it's still a important part of the president's political standing.
There is very little good news for President Obama in the new August jobs report, despite the fact that the unemployment rate technically fell.
The number of jobless American workers decreased from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent in August, according to new figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That might seem good on the surface, but in reality it’s because a huge number of people simply gave up trying to find work and dropped out of the pool of potential workers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its July jobs report this morning — an assessment that didn’t exactly show considerable growth in the economy over the past month. And from a political perspective, that means one thing: President Obama is running out of time.
Because polling — both in this campaign and in past races — suggests that public perception on major issues (economy, Iraq, etc.) cements several months in advance of the actual vote, barring some sort of cataclysmic event.
The news from the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning that the economy added just 80,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate stayed stuck at 8.2 percent suggests that any hope that President Obama will be able to run for reelection bolstered by an improving financial picture is rapidly disappearing.
The three summers of President Obama’s first term in office have been decidedly unkind to him on the economic front, a trend that puts even more importance on this morning’s June jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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 BLS’s 8:30 announcement of the utmost political importance.
The September jobs report — 103,000 jobs created, unemployment rate steady at 9.1 percent — is neither good enough to provide President Obama a real boost as he makes the case for passage of his jobs bill nor bad enough to significantly embolden his Republican critics on the campaign trail and in Congress.