Hiring slowed to a near-standstill last month, raising doubts that the economy will rebound in the second half of the year after a spring slump.
The economy generated only 18,000 net jobs in June, the fewest in nine months. The unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent, the highest rate of the year.
“June’s employment report doesn’t have a single redeeming feature,” said Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics. “It’s awful from start to finish.”
David Plouffe, Obama’s longtime adviser, was quoted in a Bloomberg interview Wednesday as saying that “the average American does not view the economy through the prism of GDP or unemployment rates or even monthly jobs numbers.” Read Bloomberg article here.
Plouffe went on to say: “People won’t vote based on the unemployment rate, they’re going to vote based on: ‘How do I feel about my own situation? Do I believe the president makes decisions based on me and my family?’ ”
Plouffe’s comments quickly became fodder for Republicans, especially after the U.S. government on Friday released a weak monthly jobs report for June. Hiring increased by a meager 18,000 last month and the jobless rate rose to 9.2%, reigniting fears of another economic slump and triggering more political infighting in Washington over who’s to blame. See story.
After the dismal jobs report, Romney fired off a press release saying Obama has failed to get the economy moving. He also blasted Plouffe.
“If David Plouffe were working for me, I would fire him and then he could experience firsthand the pain of unemployment. His comments are an insult to the more than 20 million people who are out of work, underemployed or who have simply stopped looking for jobs,” Romney said. “With their cavalier attitude about the economy, the White House has turned the audacity of hope into the audacity of indifference.”
Each voting cohort – Independents, Hispanics, Republicans, and Tea Party voters – described the economy in highly negative terms, volunteering adjectives like “depressing,” “unstable,” “upside down,” “scary,” “frightening,” “terrifying,” and “hurting.”
These voters pushed back on any language that downplayed the economic crisis or asserted a gradual improvement is underway. Instead of the economic crisis being a “bump in the road,” one voter said it was more like a mountain and another questioned if the country still remained on the road. To these voters, the economic struggle is personal and a daily threat to their families and quality of life.
Participants believe President Obama has made the national debt worse and view the economic stimulus spending as Exhibit A. The Independents and Hispanic voters were shocked to hear the statement then-Senator Obama made in 2006 when he voted against raising the debt ceiling. One Pennsylvania Independent female who voted for Obama said, “someone should read that [statement] back to him.” Other participants excused the remarks as simply politics as usual, but that admission reveals how President Obama no longer carries the post-partisan mantle among these voters. The debt limit debate has the potential to further weakening support among Obama Independents.