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Posted: 4:29 p.m. Friday, June 1, 2012
By Jim Bradley
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
It was just a few months ago that job numbers were so good, economists were saying the country was moving beyond the recession.
Now, a second straight month of meager job gains has the stock market plunging and experts tossing their optimism out the window.
“A lot of us are in this situation and we want work. We want to have something to do and to take care of our families,” said Brent Bobo, who is among millions of people looking for work.
Frustration for job seekers became more tangible with Friday’s Labor Department report that the U.S. economy produced only 69,000 jobs in May.
That is down from an average of about 200,000 jobs per month in the first quarter.
The news sent the stock market sinking fast, where one stock after another dipped into the red.
“That’s very, very troubling,” said economist John Connaughton.
Three months ago, Connaughton thought a recovery was about to bloom. Now, business and consumer confidence is down again.
Connaughton said he is also less optimistic about the economy.
Even people who have jobs are struggling.
After spending more than a year out of work, Guy Dawson has a call center job, but he said it has not been reliable enough to consistently pay his bills.
“I go in one day thinking I’m getting eight hours and I only get four hours, so it makes it difficult,” he said.
Workers are not the only ones feeling the pinch, however.
For the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, political expert Michael Bitzer said a summer of economic doldrums could be a game changer.
“President Obama’s camp has got to be concerned about these numbers,” Bitzer said. “This is not what a winning re-election campaign looks like.”
The president’s labor secretary issued a statement Friday playing up the fact that there was still some job growth and touting 27 straight months of growth in private sector jobs.
However, the unemployment rate rose for the first time in almost a year.
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