For all the warm fuzzies generated by President Obama's Thursday night address, Friday morning's job figures paint a cold picture.
"I really want to like President Obama. I see him as warm and caring," Samantha Eagleson of Williamsport, Pa., says. "But does the county need warm and caring?"
Eagleson says natural-gas development in her central Pennsylvania hometown has stirred job growth.
"Yet there is a feeling that even more jobs should be available," she writes in a first-person account for Yahoo News. "If the election were held today, I would be casting a vote for Mitt Romney. Too many of my neighbors fear what their children's future may hold -- both the young and grown. Too many are working only 10 or 20 hours a week. Too many have gone without food too long."
Falling short of economists' expectations and Obama's hopes, the economy sputtered last month, adding just 96,000 jobs. Americans working or seeking work dropped by 368,000. The number of Americans in the workforce is at its lowest in more than three decades.
Numbers show one side of the story, but what do the individual stories of undecided voters reveal? Yahoo News asked those still sitting on the fence for their take on the August job tally. In their words, here are excerpts from what they wrote Friday morning:
What's startling […] is that unemployment for Americans 18 to 29 is a staggering 12.7 percent.
As a 32-year-old father from the small, rural city of Standish, Mich., the prospect of a brighter future for my children that the president spoke about does not mesh with current figures. I do not see this as just a bump in the road to recovery. Finding work in this economy is hard enough on those my age who are experienced. I cannot imagine how the next generation will manage to support themselves if something does not change in the next few years.
As such, it is still hard for me to render a decision on the candidates now. While Mitt Romney has yet to offer a viable solution, the president has sugar-coated the damage and, at least partly, remains liable for the current situation. He did not inherit all of it, as much as he would like to think, nor has his opponent offered a way to economic redemption.
-- D. Benjamin Satkowiak, Standish, Mich.
The jobs report adds to the frustration that I, an unemployed 44-year-old living near Roanoke, Va., and millions of others who are unemployed feel. President Obama made -- and subsequently broke -- several promises when he campaigned in 2008.
One promise that he has kept, with disastrous results for jobs in the coal-producing regions of the country, is to "bankrupt coal," and he has tried singlehandedly to destroy the coal industry and its employment with executive orders to the EPA.
So, despite the soaring, emotional and heartfelt speeches that he and some of his supporters gave at the DNC, with so many broken promises and the results of the August jobs report, it makes me wonder why I should trust the new promises he made last night.
-- Lyn Brooks, Virginia
America's employment situation is still gloomy and the overall increase in new jobs is anemic. Each of the prior two months were also revised lower, only adding to the dismal jobs picture. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 133,300,000 jobs as of August. Four years earlier, in August 2009, that number stood at 136,764,000, a loss of more than three million jobs!
As a voter, I believe Obama has not been able to work with the opposition in order to promote legislation that could add meaningful job opportunities. I am not saying dealing with the Republican Party is easy, or that Romney will have an easier task dealing with Democrats. What I whole-heartedly believe is that, during his term in office, he failed to take meaningful actions to stimulate economic growth and job creation, and I will likely give that opportunity to a person with more business experience and with a track record of successfully dealing with members of the opposing party.
-- Morris Armstrong, Danbury, Conn.
As a California Democrat in my late 20s, I know full well my state will vote for the president. So, here in Los Angeles, my choice is not so much between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney as it is between Obama and a third-party candidate.
Because I do not believe my vote for president will have any effect on the electoral college, I could choose to vote my conscience for a third-party candidate who better represents goals of personal freedoms, anti-war foreign policy and the maintaining of social programs that help those most in need.
But, if anything, today's relatively weak jobs report has instilled in me a greater resolve to vote for President Obama. Our nation should be judged on how we treat the least of our own. With continued economic uncertainty, it is as important as ever to treat the poor, aged, disabled and destitute with the same respect as our most fortunate individuals.
-- Jesse F. Sears, Los Angeles
Americans in general and the middle class in particular have been forced to make do with less. Notably, there is less optimism on the street. This does not bode well for the incumbent. We learned again this morning: The greatest threat to Barack Obama's re-election bid is the state of the economy. Previous elections reflected as much.
I believe, down the road, the American economy will right itself. However, with two months to go, the jobs outlook won't help Obama's cause, and it will loom large in November. The Republicans know as much. Now it is up to voters to weigh it.
-- Hector Quiambao, Sun Valley, Calif.