Probably the Worst Day of Obama's Life; Unemployment Rises as Only 69,000 Jobs Were Created in May; Stock Markets Fall
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Employers added a seasonally adjusted 69,000 jobs last month, the smallest increase in a year, and estimates for the two previous months were lowered. The politically salient unemployment rate inched up to 8.2% from 8.1% in April, and the report immediately became a flash point in a presidential race focused on the candidates' job-creating credentials. President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney sparred over the numbers in back-to-back appearances where each made his case to voters.
Stock markets tumbled on the report. The Dow Jones Industrial Average notched its worst showing of the year Friday, falling 274.88 points, or 2.2%, to 12118.57. Investors snapped up U.S. Treasury bonds instead, pushing down yields to the lowest level on record yet again. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note finished at 1.467%. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Friday's jobs numbers caught the White House and the Obama campaign by surprise. Polls show the economy consistently remains voters' top concern before the November election.
Mr. Romney seized on the report as evidence Mr. Obama has mismanaged the economy. "The president's policies and his handling of the economy has been dealt a harsh indictment this morning," Mr. Romney said in an interview with CNBC.
Mr. Obama, speaking later at an event in Minnesota, called employment growth too slow but blamed Republicans in Congress for blocking policies he said would create jobs, such as tax credits for small businesses and measures to help homeowners refinance mortgages. The economy "is growing again but it's not growing as fast as we want," he said at a Honeywell International Inc. facility in Golden Valley, Minn. "We are still fighting our way back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."
Mr. Obama's campaign has sought to use Mr. Romney's career at private-equity firm Bain Capital to paint him as a coldhearted capitalist who cut jobs, while Mr. Romney has highlighted that business experience to bolster his credentials as a job creator.
Jobs were only one of the worrisome economic indicators released Friday. A separate report showed U.S. manufacturing growth cooled in May, with sharp drops in both production and exports.
Another report showed consumer spending rose in April--but outpaced incomes--suggesting many consumers are strapped for cash.
Source: Wall Street Journal | JOSH MITCHELL
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