President Barack Obama got arguably his biggest blow to date in his re-election bid when the June jobs report revealed America's unemployment problem is getting worse, not better.
With his re-election campaign underway in a bid to win a second term in the presidential election in November 2012 -- 16 months away -- Obama had to tell the American people Friday about the bleak jobless situation and challenge in the near-term future while also dealing with the reality that winning amid high unemployment will be difficult.
The June jobs report pegged America's unemployment rate at 9.2 percent, an increase over the previous month and much worse than economists and the White House had expected.
No U.S. president has ever been re-elected when the unemployment rate was aunebove 7.2 percent. Ronald Reagan won his re-election bid in 1984 when America's jobless rate was 7.2 percent but others trying to get another term in office at higher numbers have failed. Obama's challenge is that one economist called June's paltry showing scary for the economy and others say all signs point to the situation not getting any better any time soon.
Obama spoke in downbeat tones when addressing the issue Friday in prepared comments delivered from the White House Rose Garden.
The economy as a whole just isn't producing nearly enough jobs for everybody who's looking, Obama said.
Obama suggested the problem with June's dismal unemployment numbers, which showed that new jobs added were six times less than the consensus of economics forecasting June's activity, was tough headwinds including natural disasters, high gas prices, economic turmoil in Europe and state and local budget cuts.
Obama only touched in his remarks on how America could overcome its unemployment problem, now in a second year after the official end to the 2008-2009 economic recession. He said infrastructure spending and help for entrepreneurs as leading initiatives needed. Obama also mentioned America's budget deficit issue, saying an agreement needs to be reached by congressional leaders to raise the debt ceiling, so businesses can be confident to begin hiring again.
Just two months ago, the unemployment rate was 9.0 percent and optimism was high among economists and the White House that it would only improve in the months between the late spring, when Obama announced his presidential re-election bid, and the election in November 2012.
A key member of Obama's team doesn't think the dismal unemployment numbers will hurt Obama's re-election bid, however. David Plouffe, the president's political advisor, said Thursday, the day before the jobless numbers were released, that he doesn't believe the high rate will threaten Obama's re-election campaign.
The average American does not view the economy through the prism of GDP or unemployment rates or even monthly jobs numbers, he said. People won't vote based on the unemployment rate, they're going to vote based on: 'How do I feel about my own situation? Do I believe the president makes decisions based on me and my family?'