Republican presidential candidates used Friday's jobs report to attack President Obama's economic policies.
The jobs report, issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed better than expected job growth in July. There were 117,000 jobs added, higher than the 85,000 that economists were expecting, but still far lower than necessary to significantly bring down the nation's high unemployment rate. Unemployment went from 9.2 percent in June to 9.1 percent in July.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty said in a statement, “Today's dismal jobs report is a far cry from the hope and change that President Obama promised on the campaign trail. ... Despite these clear and abundant signs that our economy is floundering, President Obama has still failed to deliver a concrete plan to create jobs and promote growth. This lack of leadership is inexcusable and driving our economy toward decline.”
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney also blamed Obama for slow job growth: “Today's unemployment report represents the 30th straight month that the jobless rate has been above 8 percent. The administration promised with their $800 billion stimulus that they would keep unemployment below that number. When you see what this president has done to the economy in just three years, you know why America doesn't want to find out what he can do in eight.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) mentioned the large number of donors to Obama's 2012 political campaign in a jab on his economic policies.
“Despite today's jobs report showing a slight improvement, with 9.1 percent unemployment, it is still evidence that the President's failed economic policies are digging us deeper into a hole,” she said. “The President created twice as many donors for his campaign as he created jobs in the second quarter. ... The President can attempt to blame and spin away this week's bad economic news, but you can't fool the markets. Mr. President, the only way to dig us out of this hole your administration has gotten us into is to stop digging.”
Former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman touted his record as Governor of Utah and called for free market reforms to help the economy.
“The President has had 2.5 years to turn around the American economy and it is clear he has failed. In less than one day, Americans have witnessed a considerable drop in the stock market and yet another jobs report showing an unemployment rate above 9%,” said Huntsman.
“We need to implement the type of pro-growth policies and free-market reforms that made Utah the top state for job creation when I was Governor. America needs a President who knows how to create an economic environment that allows entrepreneurs to thrive and create jobs. This country will never realize its true economic potential until we enact tax cuts, implement regulatory reform and move toward energy independence.”
History shows us that a president’s chances of reelection can be dampened if the economy is poor. More recent examples are Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush, both of whom lost their reelection bids in the midst of a poor economy. Reminding voters of weaknesses in the economy makes sense for Republican candidates and voters will be constantly reminded over the airwaves and in political speeches between now and next November.
While July's job growth was better than expected, and much better than June's mere 18,000 jobs added, the growth is still much smaller than necessary to significantly reduce the unemployment rate. Republican economic consultant Matt McDonald calculated that 255,000 jobs, over twice the amount created in July, would have to be created each month to bring unemployment below 8 percent before the November 2012 election.
Lawrence Summers, former economic adviser to Obama and Treasury Secretary for President Clinton, agreed, in a Tuesday op-ed for The Washington Post, that a large drop in unemployment is unlikely.
“On the current policy path, it would be surprising if growth were rapid enough to reduce unemployment even to 8.5 percent by the end of 2012.” Summers also said that there is a “1 in 3 chance” that the nation will enter another recession in 2012.
The July jobs report also contains some bad news along with the growth in jobs and drop in the unemployment rate.
There were actually 34,000 fewer people working in July (139,296,000) than in June (139,334,000). Some of those were due to the Minnesota government shutdown. Since the unemployment rate only accounts for those who are actively looking for employment, a drop in unemployment concurrent with fewer jobs means that there were a number of unemployed who simply stopped looking for work in July.