The economy continued its mid-air stall on Friday as another disappointing jobs report showed that minorities and the private sector continue to take hits, leading GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to lament: “America can do better and this kick in the gut has got to end.”
U.S. employers added only 80,000 jobs in June, a third straight month of weak hiring that shows the economy is still struggling three years after the recession ended, and falling short of forecasts though a tad higher than a revised May reading of 77,000.
The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2 percent, the Labor Department said Friday. The economy added an average of just 75,000 jobs a month in the April-June quarter — one-third of the pace in the first quarter.
While most political analysts point to the economy as the number one issue on the minds of American voters in 2012, the Obama administration insisted that “there are no quick fixes” from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
“There are no quick fixes to the problems we face that were more than a decade in the making,” said White House chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Alan Krueger. “President Obama has proposals to create jobs by ending tax breaks for companies to ship jobs overseas and supporting state and local governments to prevent layoffs and rehire hundreds of thousands of teachers.”
For the first six months of 2012, employers added an average of just 150,000 jobs a month. That's fewer than the 161,000 average for the first half of 2011.
Job creation during the month of June wasn't enough to bring down the country's lofty 8.2 percent unemployment rate. The report appeared sure to fuel concerns that Europe's debt crisis is shifting the U.S. economy into low gear.
Hispanic and Latino unemployment continued to hover well above the national average at 11.0 percent, reports Business Insider, while the unemployment rate for white men and women was slightly lower than the national average at 7.4 percent.
African Americans were particularly hard hit by the difficult economy with 184,000 more jobless black Americans in June and an overall unemployment rate at a staggering 14.4 percent.
And, Business Insider also noted that more workers joined the federal government's disability program in June than got new jobs, according to the Social Security Administration.
In June 85,000 workers left the workforce entirely to enroll in the Social Security Disability Insurance.
Since 2009, the economy has created 2.6 million jobs while 3.1 million workers signed up for disability.
In a televised address after Friday’s numbers were released, Romney blamed President Barack Obama’s failed economic policies and lambasted the president’s “Forward” campaign slogan.
“Forward doesn’t look a lot like forward to the millions and millions of families that are struggling today in this great country. It doesn’t have to be this way,” said the GOP standard bearer. “The president doesn’t have a plan, hasn’t proposed any new ideas to get the economy going, just the same old ideas of the past that have failed. I have a plan. My plan calls for action that will get America working again and create good jobs — both near term and long term.”
Romney pointed to the stalled Keystone XL Pipeline project; the need to open new markets for American trade — particularly in Latin America — and the need to lower marginal tax rates.
“This is a time for America to choose whether they want more of the same, whether Unemployment above 8 percent month after month, after month is satisfactory or not,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be this way. America can do better and this kick in the gut has got to end.”
Europe's debt crisis is also weighing on U.S. exports. And the scheduled expiration of tax cuts at year's end has increased uncertainty for U.S. companies, making many hesitant to hire.
Job creation is the fuel for the nation's economic growth. When more people have jobs, more consumers have money to spend — and consumer spending drives about 70 percent of the economy.
The market opened sharply lower after the jobs report was issued. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 146 points — about 1 percent — in the first hour of trading. Other stock indexes also sank.
As an employer, the government isn't helping.
The number of jobs at all levels of government fell 4,000 in June. Only local governments added jobs — and it was a scant 4,000. State governments cut 1,000 jobs. They shed 13,000 in the April-June quarter.
"In the first quarter it looked like state and local government job losses were coming to an end," says Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services. "That turned out to be a temporary halt . . . Apparently, there's no end in sight."
The federal government cut 7,000 jobs in June. It hasn't added jobs since March 2011.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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