Maybe it's not the economy, stupid

May's job numbers are anemic; March and April get downward revisions.

Published June 2, 2006 3:34PM (EDT)

Republicans grumble that they're not getting enough credit for an improving economy, and Karl Rove has been aiming to fix that. His job just got a little harder.

The employment numbers for May came out this morning, and the news is pretty much all bad. Economists expected that the nation would add about 170,000 new jobs in May. The number out today: Just 75,000, about half the number needed just to keep pace with population growth.

But we've had some good job months lately, right? Not as much as you might think. The Labor Department initially reported that 138,000 new jobs were created in April. Today, it revised that number downward to 126,000. The Labor Department's original number for March was 200,000. The new number: 175,000. Add May's number to the revised numbers for March and April, and you get a three-month average of 125,000 new jobs, which is to say, less than the number required just to break even.

Factor in gas prices -- they've dropped a bit, but still average $2.87 a gallon nationwide -- and you can understand why Americans may not be thrilled with the state of the economy and might not see it as a reason for reelecting Republicans to Congress. The president has a plan for all that, however, and it goes into effect Monday: He'll hold a Rose Garden event to push for a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Gay Marriage George W. Bush Unemployment War Room