- (Photo: Reuters / Larry Downing)
[UPDATE] 7/8 4:00 p.m.
President Obama addressed the increasing unemployment rate Friday morning, stating that the latest jobs report confirms "what most Americans already know."
"We still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to give people the security and opportunity that they deserve," he said.
Recent natural disasters, spikes in gas prices, and state and local budget cuts have contributed to the down economy, Obama listed. He also noted that more than 2 million new private sector jobs were added over the past 16 months but that the recession "cost us more than 8 million."
"[T]hat means we that we still have a big hole to fill."
Obama plans to work through the weekend with Congress to come to an agreement on deficit reductions and the debt ceiling.
[This is a breaking news update. Check CP's earlier story below.]
In the midst of dealing with the debt-ceiling crisis, President Obama was dealt yet another crushing blow as unemployment rose to 9.2 percent, with only 18,000 non-farm jobs created last month, the Labor Department reported. As a result of the fallout, the Dow Jones Industrial average fell 100 points after the opening bell rang.
Prior to the numbers being released, the White House announced early Friday morning that the president would deliver comments on the job report. The president is clearly disturbed by the numbers and the timing could not be worse.
“The June jobs report was a shocker. It was far worse than expected, and weak on all key dimensions – job creation, unemployment, the length of the workweek, and hourly earnings,” chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight told Fox Business.
Republicans were quick to challenge the president on his earlier commitment that he could lower unemployment numbers. Their combined assessment: “very disappointing.”
“Each passing unemployment report is a stinging reminder that President Obama has failed to get our economy out of the ditch. Today is another indication that we need to move away from the President’s job-destroying policies and toward solutions that restore confidence, control spending, and put Americans back to work,” Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said in an issued statement.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was even more direct in his statement.
“The American people are still asking the question: where are the jobs? Today’s report is more evidence that the misguided ‘stimulus’ spending binge, excessive regulations, and an overwhelming national debt continue to hold back private-sector job creation in our country,” Boehner said.
Of the Republican presidential hopefuls who commented, the word “failure” was a common theme when referring the dismal unemployment news.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) was first to comment on President Obama’s performance.
“Today’s unemployment report is another stark reminder of the failure of President Obama’s economic policies. The President promised if we passed the massive stimulus package that unemployment wouldn’t go above 8 percent; we are now at 9.2 percent,” said Bachmann in her statement. “… The President promised ‘shovel-ready’ projects that would create jobs, but now the President says ‘shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.’ Mr. President, it’s time to take the shovel out of your hand and start digging.”
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was criticized earlier in the week for flip-flopping on comments he made about Obama’s economic policies, but today issued a blistering statement.
“Today’s abysmal jobs report confirms what we all know – that President Obama has failed to get this economy moving again. Just this week, President Obama’s closest White House adviser said that ‘unemployment rates or even monthly job numbers’ do not matter to the average American. If David Plouffe were working for me, I would fire him and then he could experience firsthand the pain of unemployment,” said Romney.
The White House has maintained that the economy has been slowing in the first half of the year, but blamed the slowdown on temporary factors such as rising commodity and oil prices and even global weather patterns.
Friday’s June job’s report is more an indication that the issue is more “systemic” and not “transitory,” both phrases used by economists to describe economic patterns. More alarming is government employment declined for an eighth straight month as municipalities and state governments seeking to cut costs have reduced their payrolls.
Another issue that may not sit well with taxpayers is a new report that nearly 90 percent of President Obama’s domestic travel in the first six months of this year has been either partially or entirely political.
On April 27, Obama and his wife flew to Chicago to tape the Oprah Winfrey show, and then to New York for fundraisers. Six of Obama’s trips included both a fundraiser and a stop in a political battleground state.
Critics of Obama’s performance will wonder why he isn’t spending more time dealing with unemployment numbers as opposed to campaigning in an uncontested primary.