Obama, Romney Avoid the Elephant in the Room
What must be acknowledged is that the direction of the U.S. economy depends on Europe, Barnard College economist David Weiman said.
"Especially because Obama was pushing exports as the saving grace of the U.S. economy," said Weiman. "If exports are lagging because of Europe,
Romney slammed Obama at a speech in North Las Vegas, Nevada, on Friday. He said 42 straight months of unemployment above 8% under Obama is the longest ever recorded in U.S. history. He called it an extraordinary record of failure and said Obama's policies have backfired because the president thinks the government enables America to work.
Romney didn't note that employment rose in July by 163,000 jobs, which was better than the 100,000 expected by economists. It was an improvement of almost 100,000 from June.
At the White House Friday, Obama referred to the 172,000 private-sector jobs the country added in July, choosing to exclude numbers that showed the government payroll contracted by 9,000. The president said Americans knew when he took office that it would take time to grow jobs -- something that has become a common remark by the White House.
On the one hand, July's upside surprise snapped a downward trend that began in early spring when new jobs dipped to 143,000 in March (down from 259,000 in February) and then 68,000 in April, 87,000 in May and 64,000 in June.
"It's a draw. So Obama can turn around and say 'Well, things are better, they certainly are better than we saw the last couple of months,' " said Barnard College's Weiman. But slower economic growth will hurt employment prospects in the months ahead.
Markets surged Friday on the greater-than-expected employment jump, but equities disappointed in four straight sessions this week largely thanks to unimpressive news from the eurozone.
The region's joblessness rose by 123,000 in June as the unemployment rate held steady at 11.2%, but the eurozone's PMI manufacturing index ticked lower to 44 -- a number that marks contraction in the sector -- and came in below economists' expectations. The low point for the week came Thursday as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi failed to outline any major plans to save the continent.
Yet, rhetoric from Obama and Romney seem to suggest that their policies would be able to spur U.S. economic growth in the next presidential term.