With news breaking that the unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest level in three years — 8.3 percent for the nation and 13.6 percent for African Americans — political pundits and observers are speculating that Mitt Romney‘s entire platform, built solidly upon the shaky economy, may have crumbled beneath him.
The Grio’s Political Analyst, Perry Bacon, Jr., examines the unemployment numbers and what it could mean in a potential Romney/Obama match-up in November:
The job news puts Romney in a complicated situation, as he must in some ways root for the jobless rate to go back up or not dip too low, as that would further threaten his route to the presidency. At the same time, he must of course avoid rhetoric that sounds like he is not enthusiastic about economic growth.
The alternative for Romney is to acknowledge the positive news, but say the economy would have rebounded even faster if he were president, a kind of counter-factual that is hard to convince voters of. [President Barack] Obama has struggled with this problem for three years, as voters have largely not supported his argument the recession would have been even worse without the 2009 stimulus.
The GOP candidate took this approach on Friday, after the jobs’ numbers were released.
“We welcome the fact that jobs were created and unemployment declined,” Romney said in a statement. “Unfortunately, these numbers cannot hide the fact that President Obama‘s policies have prevented a true economic recovery. We can do better. He added, “long-term unemployment remains at record levels.”
With Romney still rebounding from his “I’m not concerned with the very poor” gaffe, this evidence that Obama may just be on to something does not bode well for the Massachusetts millionaire. Conversely, the fact that unemployed people who have stopped seeking jobs were not included in the latest statistics — leaving open the possibility that when they hit the market again the numbers will rise — means that Obama shouldn’t rest easy just yet.
Read more on what the unemployment numbers means for election 2012 at TheGrio.com