Just what the Republican strategists ordered: The unemployment rate ticked up in May to 8.2 percent, the Labor Department said.
Let it be understood that 69,000 jobs were added to the economy in May, clearly indicating that the headline numbers do not always tell the whole tale. More workers jumped into the workforce in May or fewer skipped into statistical oblivion by dropping out of the data pool. Regardless, the pleasant slide from 9.1 percent unemployment in August to 8.1 percent in April was just that: pleasant. The drop was far too heavily influenced by people giving up to be a victorious decline. The White House had nothing much to cheer about.
Going backwards just inflames the rhetoric. The Republican party is really, really, really standing in the way of job creation. The Democratic strategy is really, really, really not working. Too bad neither party can clear its head and get it right.
For as long as memory serves, national campaigns have been about Democrats raising taxes and spending frivolously and Republicans biting down a bit harder on reality and passing the buck to states or corporations while sniffing around for some international mayhem to keep the military going.
The employment strategies haven't changed much over the years either. Democrats look at stimulus measures first, international bargaining second. Republicans look down at their shoes. It's a bit vague, but at least it's honest.
The long-term fix is, indeed, labor and commodities reform, pushing technology forward, and insisting on a better balance on the international stage regarding protection of intellectual property and outsourcing jobs to overpopulated regimes.
The United States simply gave away production of rare earth minerals that China can now use as an international Achilles heel. Rare earth production in China is not a matter of cheap labor. Mines are equipment intensive, not labor intensive. But the U.S. government figures Americans are better at growing wheat than producing flat-screen TVs, wind turbines and high-speed trains. In general, you are what you eat. In international business, you are what you subsidize.
The appropriate television advertisement for the Oval Office: About 30 seconds of President Obama or former presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney banging their heads against a wall. Can you say, "Yada, yada, yada?"
In international markets Friday, the Nikkei 225 index in Japan lost 1.2 percent and the Shanghai composite index in China rose 0.05 percent. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong slid 0.38 percent and the Sensex in India gave up 1.56 percent.
The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia fell 0.3 percent.
In midday trading in Europe, the FTSE 100 index in Britain fell 1.26 percent while the DAX 30 in Germany plunged 3.31 percent. The CAC 40 in France dropped 2.4 percent and the Stoxx Europe 600 shifted lower, down 2.02 percent.