The economy created just 80,000 jobs last month, leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 8.2 percent and making June the third straight month to disappoint in job creation as experts fear the U.S. and global economies are slowing. American employers added just 75,000 jobs per month on average since April, compared to 226,000 per month during the first quarter of the year. And this year's pace is already trailing 2011's.
Today's number, while in positive territory, is deeply disappointing because it is not enough to keep up with population growth, let alone begin to close the jobs gap. The Brookings Institution estimated last year that to close the jobs gap by 2020, we would need to be creating 208,000 jobs per month. Today's report suggests the economy will be struggling for many years to come.
The report will also abruptly bring to a halt several weeks of good press for President Obama, which included his immigration policy change and the Supreme Court's affirmation of his healthcare law. But the economy remains the most important issue on voters' minds, and this middling report will no doubt dominate the media narrative for the next few days. Meanwhile, presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney gets a much-needed distraction from talking about healthcare and immigration, two topics on which he is extremely uncomfortable and has almost nothing to say. Slamming Obama on the economy is Romney's sweet spot.
But when Romney inevitably does hit Obama today, he'll know where the president is coming from. During a press conference from 2006, Romney, then the governor of Massachusetts, spun bad job numbers by blaming the weak economy he inherited. He now attacks Obama for doing the same.