WASHINGTON – The American job machine has jammed. Again.
The economy added only 80,000 jobs in June, the government said Friday, erasing any doubt that the United States is in a summer slump for the third year in a row.
Let’s just agree: This number stinks, said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at the investment firm BTIG.
It was the third consecutive month of weak job growth. From April through June, the economy produced an average of just 75,000 jobs a month, the weakest three months since August through October 2010.
The unemployment rate stayed at 8.2 percent – a recession-level figure, even though the recent recession has technically been over for three years.
The numbers could hurt President Obama’s odds for re-election. Mitt Romney, the presumed Republican nominee, said they showed that Obama, in 3 1/2 years on the job, had not gotten America working again.
Obama focused on private companies, which added 84,000 jobs in June, and took a longer view of the economic recovery. He noted that businesses have created 4.4 million new jobs over the past 28 months, including 500,000 new manufacturing jobs.
The Labor Department’s report on job creation and unemployment is the most closely watched monthly indicator of the U.S. economy. There are four reports remaining before Election Day, including one on Friday, Nov. 2, four days before Americans vote. The labor market is treading water, said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute. She called it an ongoing, severe crisis for the American work force.
The Labor Department report put investors in a sour mood.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 124 points. Industrial and materials companies, which depend on economic growth, were among the stocks that fell the most. The price of oil fell $2.77 per barrel to $84.45.
Money flowed instead into U.S. Treasurys, which investors perceive as safer than stocks when the economy is weakening. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 1.54 percent, from 1.59 percent on Thursday.
Investors were already worried about a debt crisis that has gripped Europe for almost three years and recent signals that the powerhouse economy of China is slowing.
This week, the European Central Bank and the central bank of China cut interest rates in hopes of encouraging people and businesses to borrow and spend money.