The unemployment rate continued to rise today, from 9.4 percent in May to 9.5 percent in June, with 467,000 nonfarm payroll jobs being lost. (Click here to see the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, which includes breakdowns by sector.)
It was a smaller jump than we've seen in previous months. Last month, BLS announced a rise from 8.9 percent to 9.4 percent. From November to March, the average monthly job loss total was 670,000; from April to June, it's been 436,000. Still, this month's drop in payroll employment was more than expected.
The political calculus on unemployment hasn't changed much. President Obama, in an interview with Bloomberg in June, predicted unemployment would hit 10 percent by the end of the year, giving himself some room as observers wondered when the continued job losses would begin to hurt his high standing in the public's eye.
"I think that what you've seen is that the pace of job loss has slowed," Obama said--and it has. He also pointed out that unemployment is a lagging indicator--in other words, it's a problem that began in the previous administration. Judging from Obama's approval ratings, people seem to be on the same page there.
But that's not going to stop Republicans from hitting him every time the rate goes up. A press release from the Republican National Committee today charged that the "facts belie Obama's 'rose-colored forecast,'" questioning his promises of stimulus job creation, while House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) hit Obama for pursuing health care and cap and trade in light of the unemployment situation: "Inexplicably, instead of focusing on jobs and restoring the financial security that has been lost by millions of struggling families, the President continues to push an agenda that the majority of Americans are uneasy with," he said in a statement released this morning.