WASHINGTON (WJZ)—This week’s bleak employment report could have a major impact on the outcome of next year’s presidential election. The last president who was re-elected with unemployment above 7 percent was Franklin Roosevelt.
Andrea Fujii reports that’s a fact of which President Barack Obama and his potential Republican challengers are well aware.
The increase of unemployment to 9.1 percent, combined with falling home values and rising gas prices, could be a dangerous combination for a president seeking re-election.
But Obama breezed over any direct reference to the disappointing jobs numbers while touring a Chrysler plant Friday.
“Even though the economy is growing, even though it’s created more than two million jobs over the past 15 months, we still face some tough times,” said Obama. “We still face some challenges.”
The president acknowledged the recent hits to the economy, including the earthquake in Japan, the unrest in the Middle East and the increase in gas prices.
“There are always going to be some bumps on the road to recovery,” Obama said.
Jobs and the economy remain the top issues concerning Americans, according to a recent CBS News poll. And it’s been that way for the past two years.
Some 57 percent of Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of the economy with just 38 percent approving.
Republican presidential hopefuls are banking on this issue as the weak link in an otherwise formidable candidate and came out swinging at the faith and freedom forum.
“Did you hear what he said today about the 9.1 percent unemployed Americans? He said that’s just a bump in the road. No, Mr. President, that’s not a bump, that’s Americans,” said Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
“We have a president whose policies have failed, and he won’t tell the people of the United States of America the truth of what it’s really going to take to fix these problems,” said Tim Pawlenty, Republican presidential hopeful.
This downturn is also having a big impact on teenagers. The Labor Department says the unemployment rate for teens is more than 24 percent. Compare that to May 2000 when the rate was less than 13 percent.