(Photo: REUTERS/Jim Young)
While the Republican National Convention last week was interrupted by Hurricane Isaac, this week's Democratic National Convention may also have to compete with a disappointing event – a jobs report. President Barack Obama's acceptance speech will be followed in less than 12 hours by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly jobs report. If the report shows weak job growth for August, the bad news may overshadow coverage of Obama's speech.
"I think the biggest event next week won't be [Obama's] speech Thursday, it will be the Friday morning jobs report," former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "If that Friday morning jobs report is bad, it will drown his speech."
Politico's Reid Epstein made a similar point Monday.
"The jobs report will immediately turn the focus away from the forward-looking message Democrats will push in Charlotte. For a day, at least, the successes the Obama campaign has touted on health care, reproductive rights, gay marriage and immigration will go by the wayside as the jobs numbers suck up the political oxygen," Epstein wrote.
The August jobs report showed the employment situation unchanged from the previous month with 12.8 million unemployed and the unemployment rate at 8.3 percent.
Economists predict, according to MarketWatch, that job growth will continue at a modest pace, which will not be enough to lower the unemployment rate. At the current rate, the United States will likely average about 130,000 jobs per month for 2012, which would be lower than 2011's 153,000 average jobs per month rate. To bring the unemployment rate down to pre-recession levels, the United States would need an average job growth rate of about 250,000 per month for several years.
With the economy a priority for most voters, the jobs report will likely become a focus of the presidential campaign. Incumbent presidents typically had difficulty getting reelected if the economy is poor.
When surrogates for the Obama campaign were recently asked if Americans are better off now than they were four years ago, they avoided direct answers, but argued that Obama's term began with a deep recession that will take more time to recover from.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its report on the previous month's employment statistics the first Friday of each month around 8:30 a.m. Obama will deliver his speech late Thursday evening in the stadium used by the Carolina Panthers.