Disappointing numbers give ammunition to Mitt Romney and make it harder to reach the magic 8 percent employment threshold by November.
The latest jobs report is bad news for the economy and for the Obama administration. April's disappointing payroll numbers confirm that the economy is slowing again on the heels of a winter in which the recovery appeared to be finally picking up steam.
If job growth continues at this rate, unemployment will remain at or above the politically-important 8 percent level before Election Day, according to Hamilton Place Strategies' Patrick Sims. Sims calculates that it will take monthly payroll growth of 176,000 to get below 8 percent by November -- unless more Americans drop out of the labor force, or stop looking for work. That's what caused the April headline unemployment rate to fall from 8.2 to 8.1 percent; labor force participation is now at its lowest point in 31 years. That's not the story an incumbent president wants to tell.
- Will Hispanic Immigration Trends Hurt Obama in 2012?
- LBJ's Era, and Ours
- Romney Needs a Better Brand
There is little good news for the Obama administration to point to. The number of long-term unemployed, the plight of which has dogged the White House, remained staggering and largely unchanged at 5.1 million and 41.3 percent of the total unemployed. The economy seems now to be treading water, rather than surging forward.