The halcyon days of winter, when the job market was showing sharp improvements, seem like a long time ago. The last three months have shown one disappointing jobs report after another, each worse than the last, with today's new data nothing short of brutal.
The expectations were that the economy, after a rough April, would "snap back in May," producing 150,000 jobs. As of this morning, the new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed an economy that added less than half that figure: the U.S. created only 69,000 jobs in May, while the unemployment rate inched higher to 8.2%.
As is nearly always the case, there was a gap in the public vs. private sectors -- American businesses added 82,000 jobs last month, while the government shed 13,000 jobs.
Common sense suggests policymakers would see data like this and act immediately, taking bold steps to boost job creation. Given Republican power in Congress, however, that's no longer an option.
Adding insult to injury, the job totals for both March and April were both revised in the wrong direction. There's no sugarcoating today's job news -- it's a disaster, and the worst report since May 2011.
The only Americans thrilled by today's news is Mitt Romney's campaign, which needs bad news to advance their ambitions, though I'd remind the Republican campaign that, as of this week, taking an economy that was losing jobs and turning it into an economy that's adding jobs is a sign of success, not failure.
And with that, here's the chart I run on the first Friday of every month, showing monthly job losses since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction -- red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.
Update: Here's another chart, this one showing monthly job losses/gains in just the private sector since the start of the Great Recession.