Jobs Report Encouraging to President, But Unemployment Still Rises

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The July jobs report released today provided encouraging news for President Obama, with the economy adding more jobs than many analysts expected, but it also gave some fodder to Republican Mitt Romney as the unemployment rate ticked upward from 8.2 percent last month to 8.3 percent now.

As expected, both campaigns pounced on the news, with each side seeing just what it wanted to see in the numbers. While the 163,000 new jobs added in July was just about at the number most experts say Obama would need in the monthly reports from now until the election for the economy to not drag him down even further, the unemployment rate is a number that’s much easier for the public to grasp—and easier for Romney to use to bash the president over the head. But even the unemployment rate is a somewhat vague concept, since it calculates the number of people actively looking for work or receiving unemployment benefits, not the number of people who are actually unemployed. So those who have been looking for several years won’t even be included in the stat. (And one more thing to note is that economists say zero percent unemployment is not only not possible but it’s not desirable, since every vibrant economy needs a portion of its workforce actively looking for new jobs so that employers can make new hires.)

The president held a White House event and surrounded himself with working families who recently have found jobs, highlighting the positive news in the jobs report. Obama pointed to the 29 straight months that private employers have added jobs.

“Those are our neighbors and families finding work,” Obama said. “But, let’s acknowledge, we’ve still got too many folks out there who are looking for work.”

On the other side, Romney went to a struggling Las Vegas trucking business to make his case for how bad things are under Obama.

“It’s another hammer blow to the struggling middle-class families of America,” Romney said of the pace of job growth.

While the economy has added 151,000 jobs on average each month this year, about the same rate as last year, Bloomberg News writes that no economic recovery since World War II has been weaker than the current rebound from the recession that ended in June 2009.

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