Robert Reich: If Jobs Don’t Improve, Obama Might Lose

Economist Robert Reich warns that President Obama’s re-election chances are going to be seriously imperiled if the number of new jobs doesn’t increase substantially after Labor Day.

In a column on the Christian Science Monitor website, Reich, former Labor Secretary under President Clinton and current economics professor at Berkeley, said that Obama can no longer get away with the excuse about how horrible was the economy that he inherited from President Bush.

“In Ohio yesterday, Obama reiterated that he had inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression. That’s true,” Reich writes. “But the excuse is wearing thin. It’s his economy now, and most voters don’t care what he inherited.”

Reich estimates that 125,000 new jobs are needed every month just to keep the status quo and meet the demand of new people who will need jobs. If the number drops below that, which it has in April, May and June with an average of just 75,000 new jobs created in each of those months, the unemployment rate will rise. After new jobs numbers averaged 226,000 in January, February and March, the last three months have been particularly painful.

Reich acknowledges that creating new jobs is largely out of the president’s hands and has more to do with the state of the European economy and the economic slowdown in China. But that’s small consolation for Obama as he continues to get hounded by a public and a media demanding that he do something. Reich says the president needs to demonstrate that he understand the depths of the crisis by putting forth bold and creative new ideas. Reich says Obama has failed to do that.

“So far, his proposals are policy miniatures relative to the size of the problem,” Reich writes. “The real political test comes after Labor Day. Before Labor Day, Americans aren’t really focused on the upcoming election. After Labor Day, they focus like a laser. If the economy is moving in the right direction then—if unemployment is dropping and jobs are increasing—Obama has a good chance of being reelected. If the jobs doldrums continue—or worse—he won’t be.”


Back to top