U.S. President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama, who faces mounting pressure in his re-election bid, declared New Jersey a disaster-stricken area and plans to provide federal funding to the storm-battered state and eligible local governments. REUTERS

July's unemployment rate showed a slight improvement over June, but America's continuing jobs problem is weighing heavily against President Barack Obama in his bid for a second term.

With his re-election campaign underway in a bid to win the presidential election in November 2012 -- 15 months away -- Obama is being pressed by political opponents on America's dismal unemployment rate.

In July, the Labor Department said 117,000 jobs were added, slightly better than economists had forecast.

But two years after the recession ended, the number remains high, considering no U.S. president has ever been re-elected when the unemployment rate was above 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.

Add to that fact that the U.S. economy barely grew at all in the first half of this year, after revised GDP numbers released last month showed growth of just one percent January through June of 2011.

With the economy at a standstill and many Americans out of work, and threats of a double-dip recession mounting, Obama's re-election campaign faces mounting pressure.

"Despite (Friday's) jobs report showing a slight improvement, with 9.1 percent unemployment, it is still evident that the Presidents failed economic policies are digging us deeper into a hole," said Republican Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, in a statement released by her campaign.

"The president created twice as many donors for his campaign as he created jobs in the second quarter," Bachmann said.

The latest Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll shows 24 percent of the nation's voters strongly approve of the way Barack Obama is performing as president, while 39 percent strong disapprove.

In July, after June's unemployment rate was announced at 9.2 percent, Obama spoke downbeat tones when addressing the issue 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.

On the day Obama turned 50 Thursday, celebrating with friends and family at the White House, his spokesman was pepperred wtih questions about the unemployment problem and the slow growth economy centered around his plans for fixing the problem.

"(Obama) is working very closely with his senior economic advisors to come up with new proposals to help advance growth and job creation," said Jay Carney, White House spokesman. "He is working with members of Congress to help advance growth and job creation. And he will continue to do that."

Obama recently said infrastructure spending and help for entrepreneurs are leading federal initiatives needed.

Just three 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 last month 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?' "