For a third year, the economic recovery in the United States is floundering, stoking fears of a global slowdown as the European crisis escalates.
Last month, the nation’s employers added the fewest jobs in a year and the unemployment rate actually rose, the Labor Department reported Friday. May was not a fluke either. It was the third consecutive month of disappointing results.
The weakening recovery is a serious vulnerability for President Obama as he faces re-election and it provides traction to his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, who says the administration has not done enough to strengthen the economy. Because Washington remains deeply divided over how best to stimulate growth, the report increases the pressure on the Federal Reserve to take further action on its own.
The United States gained a net 69,000 jobs in May, for an average of 96,000 over each of the last three months. That is down from a 245,000 gain on average from December through February. The unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent in May from 8.1 in April, though largely because more people began looking for work. And there was more bad news: job gains that had been reported in March and April were revised downward.