With two consecutive months of dismal job growth amid rising unemployment — and just five months until Americans go to the polls to choose their next president — the Obama administration is on the clock to show it indeed can “put Americans back to work. That reality was underscored Friday by Labor Department reports that showed the jobless rate ticked upward in May to 8.2 percent, from 8.1 percent, and that virtually stagnant economic growth created only 69,000 new jobs — the fewest in a year. The White House and Obama were quick to defend the numbers, saying — as they have since taking office in 2008 — the problems were inherited. “We’re still fighting our way back,” the president said during a campaign stop at a Honeywell facility in Golden Valley, Minn. “Our economy is still facing serious head winds.
President Obama on Friday put the blame for a weaker than expected May jobs report on Congress, saying lawmakers’ inaction stymied economic recovery.
The president attributes the sluggish growth over the past few months in part to gas prices and the European debt crisis.
Job growth has now been disappointing for three straight months, accentuating the economic and political challenge ahead for the president.
He also cast some blame on Congress for failing to pass his jobs proposal that includes income tax increases.
His comments followed those of Alan Kruger, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, who gave a similar account.
“Problems in the job market were long in the making and will not be solved overnight,” Kruger said on the White House blog.
But for the moment, the markets are doing the job of driving down long term rates without extra help from the Fed.
The economy lost jobs for 25 straight months beginning in February 2008, and over eight million jobs were lost as a result of the Great Recession.
It makes it easier for Mitt Romney, the Republican Partys presumptive nominee, to argue that Obama isnt up to the job.
“Another month of disappointing job gains,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R Ohio.
It’s pretty clear that the American people are hurting, small businesses continue to avert hiring any additional people, and it’s clear that the policies that we’ve seen are not working.
” Romney called the report “devastating news for American workers and American families.
“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,” he said.
One of the aims of the healthcare reform is to make insurance more affordable by providing the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history, reducing premium costs for tens of millions of families and small business owners who are being priced out of coverage.
Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said the Obama Romney race has always been about the economy, but the recent reports again push social issues into the background.
“And both sides know it. Sabato also suggested the president’s timetable in now more a stopwatch than calendar. “He’s got five more” monthly unemployment reports, he said. “That’s it.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Democrats in pointing out highlighting in the slow recovery, including 27 months of adding jobs.
But she acknowledged more needs to be done and used the report, like Obama, to urge Congress to act, particularly on a transportation bill in conference committee.
Pip Digiovanna is a business journalist based in Milan, Italy. Pip has a passion for financial markets and breaking news stories and loves writing about business news, stock market, and economic opinions that matters most to its audience. Pip spends a lot of time discovering and researching latest financial markets and industry news stories in order to make sure the latest and greatest stories are brought to you first on BigBoardNews.com.