By Kristen A. Lee, Elizabeth Lazarowitz, and Jonathan Lemire, New York Daily News
Mitt Romney slammed President Obama for another disappointing jobs report Friday, blaming the incumbent’s policies for the “misery in America today.”
Sluggish improvement in the job market caused the national unemployment rate to hold steady at 8.2% in June, a third straight month of weak growth that economists fear could turn into a year-long trend. “We have seen the jobs report this morning and it is another kick in the gut to middle-class families,” said Romney, who took a break from his vacation to rip the President.
“There is a lot of misery in America today,” said Romney, appearing at a hastily-called news conference at a hardware store down the road from his $8 million New Hampshire lake house.
The economy added just 80,000 jobs in June, falling well short of rosy expectations that pegged the increase at 100,000 to 125,000 positions — or essentially the gains that would be needed to keep pace with the growing labor market. In the black community, the unemployment rate rose to a staggeringly high 14.4%.
It’s the third straight year since the recession ended that early gains were offset by a spring-summer hiring swoon. The economy has added a monthly average of 137,000 jobs since the low-water mark, a rate that means it would take three more years to recapture the employment level from January 2008.
The report was a powerful weapon for Romney to use to attack Obama’s greatest political soft spot. The presumptive GOP nominee — whose campaign has been under fire from some parts of the right for failing to seize the initiative with specific plans — kept his glee in check, sounding subdued as he called for change in Washington. He was, however, quick to point out that the unemployment rate has stayed above 8% in every month since February 2009.
For the President — who had been boosted by positive returns on his immigration reform measure and the historic Supreme Court decision upholding his health care bill — it was a clear setback that dampened his two-day campaign swing through Ohio and Pennsylvania. Obama acknowledged that the economy continues to sputter. “It’s still tough out there,” he told a crowd in Poland, Ohio. “We’ve got to grow the economy even faster.”
But Obama resorted to rhetoric that is by now familiar. He claimed the jobs report was a “step in the right direction,” and reminded the audience that the economic woes began under a Republican President — and warned that the country would not prosper under another one. “Mr. Romney’s basic idea is that if everybody is on his own, everything will turn out fine,” the President said, critiquing the Republican’s less-regulation-is-better stance. “We tried it before. It doesn’t work.”
The number of first-time claims for unemployment benefits did fall in June — a possible sign that layoffs have subsided. But the economic indicators have largely stayed negative over the last several months, and stocks dove as Friday’s Labor Department report was released. “It’s not good news,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics. “Really, the labor market is just treading water with this pace of job creation.”
Source: New York Daily News