News24

Jobs report could threaten Obama chances

2012-07-06 22:10

Akron - A weak monthly US jobs report could spell trouble for President Barack Obama and shift momentum to Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

The labour department said on Friday US employers added only 80 000 jobs in June - a third straight month of weak hiring - leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 8.2%.

The economy has added just 75 000 jobs a month in the April-June quarter. That's one-third of 226 000 a month created in the first quarter.

Job creation is also trailing last year's pace through the first six months of 2012.

Commenting on the report, Romney, who is vacationing in the north-eastern state of New Hampshire, said that only 80 000 jobs were created in June is evidence that Obama's tax, energy and regulatory policies are hampering growth.

Battleground states

Romney said he would lower taxes, reduce regulations on energy producers, open new trade with Latin America and crack down on China for what he described as unfair practices that steal American jobs.

The report came as Obama campaigned by bus through Ohio and Pennsylvania two crucial battleground states that could go either way in the state-by-state contests that decide the November election.

An Associated Press-GfK poll released last month found that more than half of those surveyed disapproved of Obama's handling of the economy, something that is especially troubling for the president in a race where the state of the economy is expected to decide the election.

In the polls, Obama holds a narrow lead over Romney in a number of closely targeted battleground and swing states.

But Romney has crept closer in national head-to-head polls since essentially locking up the Republican nomination in April.

"This is how summer is supposed to feel," Obama said, wiping sweat from his face as he campaigned under a scorching sun.

Concerns

Obama aides had been anxiously awaiting Friday's new jobs numbers, which follow a dismal May report that showed an uptick in the unemployment rate to 8.2% and raised concerns about a further economic slowdown.

Recent economic indicators have been mixed. US manufacturing shrank in June for the first time in nearly three years, according to a report this week.

Private payroll provider ADP reported on Thursday that US businesses added 176 000 jobs last month, better than the revised total of 136 000 jobs it reported for May.

But shoppers pulled back on spending in June.

His brief bus tour is taking him through two battleground states that have a better economic outlook than some parts of the country.

Ohio and Pennsylvania had unemployment rates of 7.3% in May, well below the national average of 8.2%.
Recent polls by Quinnipiac University found that Obama held a 9-percentage-point lead over Romney in Ohio and a 6-point lead in Pennsylvania.

Obama won both states in the 2008 election.

Romney took his own bus tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania last month.

The Republican challenger, criticised Obama for hitting the road with "no new answers" on the economy.