President Obama is armed with a modest cache of ammunition to further repel Mitt Romney’s advances as he blazes a campaign trail through the American heartland, Ohio and Pennsylvania: a slight increase in jobs, plummeting gas prices and a revitalized auto industry.
The newly released jobs reports is by far of most concern to citizens of these two economy-ravaged states. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. employers added only 80,000 jobs in June, a third straight month of weak hiring that shows the economy is struggling three years after the recession ended.
Despite the modest increase in hirings, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that the unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2 percent.
The economy has added just 75,000 jobs a month in the April-June quarter, which is a far cry from the 226,000 jobs-a-month created in the first quarter of 2012. Job creation is also trailing last year’s pace through the first six months of 2012.
There were some positives sprinkled within the report. The average work week grew to 34.5 hours from 34.4 in May, boosting many workers’ paychecks. Moreover, average hourly wages rose 6 cents to $23.50. Hourly pay has increased 2 percent in the past year and is ahead of inflation, which has fallen in recent months along with gas prices.
Sobering up the report, however, is the fact that about one-third of the jobs gained in June were in temporary services. Manufacturing added 11,000, its ninth straight month of gains. But growth in factory jobs slowed sharply in the second quarter compared to the first. Health care added 13,000 jobs and financial services gained 5,000. Retailers, transportation firms and government cut jobs.
— terry shropshire