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The White House urged Americans unsettled by the latest weak jobs figures—just 80,000 added to the payrolls in June—not to "read too much" into any single monthly report. President Barack Obama, chasing votes on a bus tour in Ohio, was expected to address the latest sign of an anemic recovery that threatens his shot at re-election.
"While the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, much more remains to be done to repair the damage from the financial crisis and deep recession that followed," Alan Krueger, chairman of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement.
Obama kicked off his day by sitting down to breakfast with three tire workers from a Goodyear facility in Akron, Ohio. His re-election campaign underlined that the plant had benefited from the president's decision two years ago to impose tariffs on Chinese tire imports. "The president's action on Chinese tires was supported by manufacturing workers and companies, but was labeled as 'decidedly bad for the nation and our workers' by Mitt Romney," the campaign said in a statement emailed to reporters. (Obama ordered two eggs, over medium, with bacon and wheat toast. The waitress offered him grits, and he accepted.) Obama opened his two-day bus tour through Ohio (plus one scheduled stop in Pittsburgh) with an announcement that his administration had taken formal action against Chinese duties targeting American-made cars and SUVs. The move won a warm welcome in electorally pivotal Ohio, home to plants that make some of the affected vehicles. The decision was so popular in the Buckeye State that Republican Sen. Rob Portman, frequently featured on shortlists of potential Romney running mates, welcomed it.
But the dismal new jobs report landed like a political body blow on Obama: Employers added just 80,000 jobs in June, leaving the national unemployment rate at 8.2 percent four months before the election.
It was the third straight month that the Labor Department reported poor hiring.
"It is important not to read too much into any one monthly report," Krueger said. "There are no quick fixes to the problems we face that were more than a decade in the making."
Republicans pounced on the news. House Speaker John Boehner said the data proved "that President Obama's policies have failed" and highlighted "41 months of unemployment above 8 percent."
"The president needs to stop betting on his failed policies and start working with Republicans to remove government obstacles to job creation," Boehner said in a statement.
Obama was expected to comment on the news during a campaign event at Dobbins Elementary School in Poland, Ohio.
The New York Times reported Friday—ahead of the jobs report—that the new data could be critical to the presidential campaign. The daily cited experts as saying that, typically, voter perceptions start to jell around this time in a White House race.