Only 80,000 net jobs created in June: Rate stands at 8.2%
The real unemployment rate - the number that includes part time and discouraged workers - is now at 14.9%. That't the highest it's been in two years. It has also been the weakest quarter for job growth in two years.
"What a disappointing number," said Jeff Savage, regional chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank. "This was kind of disastrous. We're not even keeping up with demographics at this point. This is not going to be liked in the markets."
Stock market futures, which had been essentially flat before the jobs number was released at 8:30 am ET, fell sharply after, though that disappointment could be tempered by hopes of more stimulus from Washington.
"QE3 will be back on the table," Savage said in reference to the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing program. "It will certainly get more serious discussion now. Those who want the Fed to get more involved will have a lot of ammunition off this particular report."
There were a few bright spots: The overall work week edged higher by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours and average hourly earnings grew 6 cents to $23.50. Also, one of the surveys the government uses to compute the number showed 128,000 more Americans with jobs.
Manufacturing saw 11,000 more jobs, though the bulk of gains continued to come from services, which increased by 67,000.
But it was an otherwise dismal report that will up the stakes in the race between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Bernanke will probably not initiate any quantitative easing anytime soon. There aren't too many arrows left in his quiver and any big stimulus he may want to save for the first quarter of 2013. That's when the economy is likely to go over a "fiscal cliff" when sequestration cuts tens of billions of dollars from the budget at the same time Bush-era tax cuts are allowed to expire.
It seems likely that we will go into the presidential election in November with unemployment at or near 8%. Ronald Reagan was re-elected with an unemployment rate of 7.4% -- but that rate had been trending down from 10% earlier in the year. Reagan's unemployment rate represents the highest ever for an incumbent's re-election.
Those are long odds for Mr. Obama to overcome.
Rich Baehr notes:
The number of jobs added matters less politically than the unemployment rate. If that had ticked up to 8.3%, it would have been worse for Obama. The unemployment rate is of course a manufactured number, since it includes an estimate of the number of people who have left the work force each month, giving up looking for jobs. With Obamacare, food stamps, and other welfare programs, soon many more Americans will be unemployed but not counted as in in the labor force.
Ed Lasky adds:
Expect to hear Obama talk about GOP efforts to obstruct his "Jobs Bill" on behalf of millionaires and billionaires.