Obama closer to breaking even on jobs

Is President Obama a job creator? Not yet. But he might be by Election Day.

The American economy only has to add another 316,000 jobs to get back to where it was in January 2009, when the president was sworn in.

Here's the math: 4.316 million jobs were lost in the first 13 months of Obama's presidency. Since he took office, 4 million net jobs have been added back.

Right now, that goal is still within reach, even in spite of still-tepid hiring in July. U.S. employers added 163,000 jobs in the month.

Three jobs reports remain before Election Day. To break even, Obama will need to add just more than 105,300 jobs per month.

That's doable, but by no means a sure thing. So far this year, job growth north of 105,300 was reported in only four out of seven months.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate rose to 8.3% in July -- down from its peak of 10% in October 2009, but still up from the 7.8% it was at when Obama was inaugurated.

Alan Krueger, chair of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, sought to downplay the jump in the unemployment rate, pointing out in a blog post that -- sans rounding -- the rate only rose from 8.217% in June to 8.254% in July.

But Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney characterized the report as a "hammer blow to struggling middle-class families" and said Americans deserve an unemployment rate below 8%.

That's a talking point that should last through Election Day. At this point, getting below 8% by November 6 is rather unlikely.

Most presidents finish their terms with job gains. By the end of Ronald Reagan's first term, the economy had created an additional 5.3 million jobs. In Bill Clinton's first four years, 11.5 million jobs had been added.

George W. Bush is the only recent president to win re-election with job losses under his watch. The economy shed 13,000 jobs in his first four years, but just like in Obama's presidency, most of those job losses came in his first year in office.


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