The US economy added a disappointing 115,000 net new jobs in in April, below analysts expectations, but the unemployment rate declined to 8.1 percent as the workforce shrunk.
Not great news. Then again, these are preliminary numbers. The previous two months' numbers have been revised to show the economy gaining 53,000 more jobs in February and March than previously reported.
Economist Dean Baker at the Center for Economic and Policy Research advises in caution in evaluating these numbers:
It is important not to place too gloomy a picture on the April data. The weakness in March and April is the flip side of the stronger growth the prior three months. Nonetheless the economy is not growing fast enough to bring unemployment down quickly.
It is virtually certain that the unemployment rate will rise in coming months.
So what does all this mean for President Obama's job prospects? Hard to say. The economies of many crucial swing states like Ohio, Virginia, and Iowa, are doing better than the nation as a whole, with unemployment rates ranging between 5 and 7.5 percent. On the other hand swing states like Nevada and Florida, with economies that had been overly dependent on the housing bubble, have unemployment rates that remain significantly higher.