The American economy is in trouble again.
Employers in the United States added only 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year and not even close to what economists expected. For the first time since June, the unemployment rate rose, to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent.
It was the third month in a row of weak job growth and further evidence that, just as in 2010 and 2011, a winter of hope for the economy has turned to a spring of disappointment.
"This is horrible," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at High Frequency Economics, a consulting firm.
The job figures, released Friday by the Labor Department, dealt a strong blow to President Barack Obama at the start of a general election campaign that will turn on the economy.
They also deepened the pessimism of investors, who even before the report was released were worried about a debt crisis in Europe with no sign of solution and signs of a slowdown in the powerhouse economy of China.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 275 points, its worst day of the year, and for the first time was down for 2012. The Standard & Poor's 500 index is almost 10 percent below its 2012 high, the traditional definition of a market correction.
Mitt Romney, who on Tuesday cleared the number of convention delegates required to win the Republican presidential nomination, told CNBC that the report was "devastating."
He called for an emphasis on energy development, pledged to "kill" the health care overhaul that Obama saw through in 2010 and said he would reduce taxes and government spending. The clearest fix for the economy, he said, was to defeat Obama.
"It is now clear to everyone that President Obama's policies have failed to achieve their goals and that the Obama economy is crushing America's middle class," said Romney, the former Massachusetts governor.