By Matt McDonald, (202) 822-1205,

Read our Jobs Day cheat sheet here.

The U.S. economy added just 69,000 jobs in May, continuing a downward trend since winter that is leaving the strength of the job market in serious doubt.

The worst part about this jobs report is that it was the last chance for a decent report before the full consequence of the slow-moving European implosion really starts to influence the global and U.S. economies.ᅠ Between the bad economic news in the U.S. this week and the terrible global economic headlines, businesses are going to be taking a very hard look at hiring plans for the foreseeable future.ᅠ Markets have already started to react negatively in response to the weak jobs numbers and the disappointing GDP figures released earlier in the week.

This month’s report was not completely without redeeming qualities.ᅠ The labor force participation rate went up, contributing to the rise in unemployment.ᅠ Also, the Household survey showed stronger job growth (after two negative months).ᅠ But the terrible headlines in the employer survey combined with the unemployment rate have swamped any underlying silver lining in the report.

Last month, the President only needed the economy to add 146,000 jobs per month to get the unemployment rate below 8 percent if the labor force participation rate held steady, 250,000 if it returned to trend. With the bump in participation this month, the President now needs the economy to add 204,000 jobs per month if the labor force participation rate stays at 63.8 percent and 295,000 if the participation rate continues to rise back to trend.

There has been some question about when the economic context will solidify before the election.ᅠ Voters tend to form their opinions before all economic data is known.ᅠ What we see now is that there is still more economic news that is likely to hit between now and the election.

Matt McDonald is a partner at Hamilton Place Strategies and a veteran of two Presidential campaigns and the White House.ᅠ Prior to joining HPS, Matt worked for McKinsey and Company. ᅠHe holds an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management and a degree in economics from Dartmouth College.