Friday, June 1, 2012

69,000 jobs in May

Stock markets have fallen following worse-than-expected US jobs figures.

The Dow Jones was down 203 points, or 1.6%, in morning trading, while the Dax in Frankfurt closed down 3.4% and the Cac 40 in Paris ended 2.2% lower.

The US economy added 69,000 jobs in May, well below forecasts. It was the smallest number created since May 2011.

Earlier, EU figures showed the eurozone jobless rate at 11% in April, unchanged from March, but still the highest since records began in 1995.

In London, the FTSE 100 index closed down 1.1%.
'Awful number'

The US jobless rate rose to 8.2% from 8.1% in April, the Labor Department said.

To make matters worse, the number of jobs added in March and April was revised down by 49,000.

There are five million fewer jobs in the US than there were when the recession began.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said: "Today's weak jobs report is devastating news for American workers and American families."

He described the report as, "a harsh indictment of the president's handling of the economy".

Jonny Dymond BBC News, Washington

These figures are a kick in the teeth for President Obama's re-election campaign. Later on Friday he'll be in Minneapolis to talk about jobs for veterans - but instead of doing so against the background of steady if unspectacular growth, his remarks will be bracketed by deep gloom about the economy's medium term prospects. There is no single issue more important in America today than jobs.

At the beginning of the year, when the economy looked as if it had reached escape velocity, the spotlight was on Republican presidential contenders and how they might have to change their economic message in the light of decent job growth. Now, after three months of deeply unimpressive jobs growth, the administration is firmly on the back foot. With five months to go before the election, the timing of the rise in unemployment is electorally horrible.

Obama defenders can point to his dreadful economic inheritance in 2008 and the current turmoil in Europe - few presidents in recent history have been dealt a poorer economic hand. Also, economies around the world are feeling the impact of the eurozone's struggles. But after almost four years, voters believe that the President "owns" the economic story.

Romney supporters were carrying "America Isn't Working" placards at a rally on Wednesday, with an illustration of a long queue of unemployed lifted from a British Conservative party poster from 1979. Expect to see a lot more of that in the coming months.

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