The May jobs numbers are putrid. The Wall Street Journal reports:
U.S. job growth slowed sharply in May, the latest indication that the economy has lost momentum.
Nonfarm payrolls grew by a 69,000 last month, the Labor Department said Friday, the smallest gain in a year. The unemployment rate, obtained by a separate survey of U.S. households, ticked one-tenth of a percentage point higher to 8.2%, the first increase in nearly a year.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires expected a gain of 155,000 in payrolls and for the jobless rate to remain at 8.1% in May.
Compounding an already weak report, March and April payroll gains were revised down. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 77,000 in April, compared with the previously reported 115,000, and March payrolls grew by 143,000 versus a previously reported 154,000.
This is essentially confirmation of Mitt Romney’s message: We’re not in recovery, and what we are doing isn’t working.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) pounced, releasing a statement that read:
President Obama’s failed policies have made high unemployment and a weak economy the sad new normal for families and small businesses. For three years the unemployment rate has remained far above what the administration predicted with the ‘stimulus’ spending binge. Half of recent college graduates are out of work or underemployed, and for those lucky enough to have a job, prices for everything from gas to groceries have risen faster than paychecks.
But the American people don’t have to accept the president’s new normal of fewer jobs and higher prices. Republicans have a Plan for America’s Job Creators designed to remove the government barriers holding back economic growth and hurting job creation. The House has passed more than 30 jobs bills to expand energy production and approve popular projects like Keystone XL, eliminate excessive federal red tape, repeal laws like ObamaCare that are making it harder for small businesses to hire new workers, and more.
“While Senate Democrats are blocking these and other important jobs bills, and President Obama is occupied campaigning, the House will continue to focus on liberating job creators and building a stronger economy for all Americans. . . . It’s time for President Obama and Senate Democrats to stop playing games and start listening too.”
Soon lay people, if not economists, will begin to use the “R”(recession) word. Other economic news is dismal as well, as Jim Pethokoukis reminds us:
1Q GDP was revised down to 1.9% from 2.2%. The previous four GDP quarters of Obama recovery: 0.4%, 1.3%, 1.8%, 3.0%. Keep in mind that research from the Federal Reserve finds that that since 1947, when two-quarter annualized real GDP growth falls below 2 percent, recession follows within a year 48 percent of the time. (And when year-over-year real GDP growth falls below 2 percent, recession follows within a year 70 percent of the time.)
– Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 383,000. Claims have now risen in seven of the past eight weeks. The four-week moving average for new claims increased 3,750 to 374,500.
– ADP said 133,000 private-sector jobs were created in May vs. analyst expectations of 150,000.
– Job cuts jumped by 53% in May from April in the United States, according to a report by consultancy firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. CNBC also notes that “employers announced plans to cut 61,887 staff from their payrolls in May, 67 percent more than in the same month of last year. The figure represents the most job cuts since last September.”
– The Rasmussen Consumer Index find that 59% think the U.S. is currently in a recession.
In sum, this is rotten news for the country and even worse news for the president. The country will recover; Obama’s political prospects may not.
As expected, the Romney campaign unloaded with a statement: “Today’s weak jobs report is devastating news for American workers and American families. This week has seen a cascade of one bad piece of economic news after another. Slowing GDP growth, plunging consumer confidence, an increase in unemployment claims, and now another dismal jobs report all stand as a harsh indictment of the President’s handling of the economy. It is now clear to everyone that President Obama’s policies have failed to achieve their goals and that the Obama economy is crushing America’s middle class. The President's re-election slogan may be ‘forward,’ but it seems like we've been moving backward. We can do so much better in America. That's why I'm running for president.”
Updated: June 1, 2012, 9:25 a.m.