President Barack Obama’s re-election plea to voters that they can decide America’s future took on a somber note the morning after the Democratic National Convention Friday with the disappointing news that job growth has slowed substantially.
The government’s release of its August unemployment report showed that the economy added only 96,000 jobs—fewer than expected—and that the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent.
Even the latter figure was not as good as economists predicted, which is a sign that more unemployed workers have stopped looking for new jobs, not simply that new jobs were being created.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney quickly criticized Obama over the underwhelming August jobs report.
“If last night was the party, this morning is the hangover,” Romney said in a statement released by his campaign.
“For every net new job created, nearly four Americans gave up looking for work entirely. This is more of the same for middle class families who are suffering through the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression.
“After 43 straight months of unemployment above 8 percent, it is clear that President Obama just hasn’t lived up to his promises and his policies haven’t worked. We aren’t better off than they were four years ago.”
For Hispanics, the latest news likely means that the national unemployment rate for Latinos hovers at around 11 or typically almost three points higher than the national average released Friday by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
Obama could face the highest unemployment rate on Election Day of any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the jobless rate has held above 8 percent for more than three years—the longest stretch since the Great Depression.
The bad job news for Hispanics, though, means a continued political improvement for Romney, who after the GOP convention had increased his share of the Latino vote to 30 percent from 26 per cent, according to the impreMedia/Latino Decisions tracking poll.
Although Obama continues to hold the majority of Hispanic voters, this marked the first time Romney had climbed to 30 percent in the 10 months that the impreMedia/Latino Decisions has been tracking an Obama-Romney race.
Hispanic jobs report
In its advertising aimed at Hispanic voters, the Romney campaign has been criticizing Obama as being responsible for “more than 10 percent Hispanic unemployment” and “two million more Hispanics in poverty.”
In his acceptance speech Thursday night, Obama acknowledged that the struggling economy continues to be a problem despite slow, steady gains.
“The truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades,” the president said.
But independent economic voices portrayed a more sobering reality Friday morning.
“This is one of those reports that as you dig deeper, it looks less friendly,” said Ethan Harris, co-head of global economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
“Politically, you can spin the drop in the rate as a positive, but it’s a sign of weakness,” Harris said. “The economy is slowing down and it wasn’t very robust to begin with.”