“There’s not a whole lot of time left, that’s the problem for the president,’’ said Christopher Wlezien, a professor of political science at Temple University who has studied the effect of the economy on presidential elections. While he stressed that the numbers released Friday may not mean much “in isolation,’’ the perception that the economy is plodding along, and maybe slowing, could be damaging unless the steady upswing resumes.
After a winter in which job gains seemed to be bolstering the president, the report that the US economy produced only 69,000 jobs in May - the poorest showing in a year - surprised most observers and caused fresh worries about a fragile economy. The economic outlook is further complicated by European political and economic strife.
Even more troubling than the unemployment rate for Obama could be this week’s revision in the growth rate of the gross domestic product for the first quarter from 2.2 percent to 1.9 percent. A president seeking reelection has historically needed to head into the fall with a GDP growth rate over 3 percent to have a good chance at victory, according to professor Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia.
“This is Obama’s worst day yet in the 2012 campaign,’’ he said.