The Morning Line: It’s All About Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

BY Terence Burlij  August 6, 2010 at 8:12 AM EDT

The Labor Department released its much-awaited monthly jobs report Friday, showing 131,000 jobs were lost in July, more than economists had expected. Both the unemployment rate, at 9.5 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, 14.6 million, remained unchanged.

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Private employers added 71,000 jobs, with most of the losses — 143,000 — coming from temporary Census workers who saw their employment come to an end.

The Labor Department also revised June’s jobs numbers, reporting that 221,000 jobs were lost, up from 125,000.

Look for President Obama to address the jobs report at 11:55 a.m. EDT when he visits Gelberg Signs, a business in Washington, D.C. According to the White House, Gelberg Signs is “expanding and making new investments in their equipment and technology thanks to two Small Business Administration loans.”

POLITICO’s Morning Money posted this preview of the jobs numbers earlier Friday: “Key figure is private sector payrolls. Analysts expect growth of 100,000-150,000 private sector jobs, following a disappointing 83,000 last month. Less than that would be a disappointment. Anything below 60,000 is likely to send policy-makers into crisis mode and push the Fed toward further easing through balance sheet expansion or other means.”

ROMER EXITS

President Obama will have to battle those weak jobs numbers without one of his top economic advisers at his side. Christina Romer, who has served as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers at the White House since the beginning of the Obama administration, has announced her plan to leave the White House and head back to her classroom at the University of California-Berkley.

Romer is also a leading contender to take over as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco when that job becomes vacant in September.

“Christy Romer has provided extraordinary service to me and our country during a time of economic crisis and recovery,” President Obama said in a statement. “The challenges we faced demanded more of Christy than any of her predecessors, and I greatly valued and appreciated her skill, commitment and wise counsel.”

Republicans did their best to make Romer famous after she authored a January 2009 report predicting unemployment would peak at 8 percent if the president’s stimulus bill was passed by Congress. Figure 1 on Page 4 of the report has appeared in more Republican press releases than any other image related to the economy as they argue the stimulus has not work as the administration expected.

The Obama administration counters that the depth of the recession was not known at the time that report was issued.

Romer’s departure comes on the heels of budget director Peter Orszag’s departure from the White House last week.

RANGEL REBUFFS PRESIDENT OBAMA’S NUDGE

Talking to reporters Thursday in New York, embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., made clear he was none too pleased with President Obama’s remarks to CBS News last week in which he suggested Rangel was at the end of his career and hoped he would be able to leave Washington with dignity.

“I don’t know why the president of these great United States would say something like that,” Rangel said. “I guess he believes 80 is old.”

Rep. Rangel also seemed to be shying away from any possible plea deal with the ethics committee.

And just to pour a little salt in the wound, the New York Times reports on the dwindling guest list for Rangel’s upcoming (belated) 80th birthday bash/fundraiser at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

GOOD OLE ROCKY TOP

Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam coasted to an easy victory Thursday in Tennessee’s Republican primary for governor. He beat four other candidates, including Chattanooga-area Congressman Zach Wamp and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.

In a statement, Republican Governors Association spokesman Tim Murtaugh said: “Bill Haslam emerges as a strong candidate headed toward November, having beaten a pair of qualified office holders in a spirited primary. As Tennessee faces great economic challenges, Bill Haslam will be a strong voice for job creation, fiscal restraint and individual freedom.”

According to the Tennessean, “Haslam outspent his opponents by pouring more than $8.7 million in the primary, including nearly $5.3 million on advertising and media production.” Before his election as mayor, Haslam was an executive for Pilot Oil.

His general election opponent will be businessman Mike McWherter, the son of former Gov. Ned McWherter. He ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Democratic Governors Association Executive Director Nathan Daschle released a statement that said: “Mike McWherter has spent his career growing jobs and strengthening the economy. The only thing Bill Haslam has increased in his career is Knoxville’s taxes and unemployment rate.”

Haslam and McWherter are running to succeed three-term Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen, who is term-limited.

In Tennessee’s 8th Congressional District, where Rep. John Tanner is retiring after 11 terms, farmer and gospel singer Stephen Fincher won the GOP nod and will face Democratic state Sen. Roy Herron.

Two-term Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen, meanwhile, brushed back a primary challenge from Willie Herenton, who was Memphis’ first black mayor. Herenton sought to use his race as an issue in the campaign, saying he was more representative of the 9th District than Cohen, who is white.