By Matt McDonald, (202) 822-1205, mmcdonald@hamiltonps.com

Today’s jobs report was terrible with a meager increase of 18,000 new jobs and an increase in the unemployment rate to 9.2%.ᅠ The underlying numbers were also terrible, with 272,000 workers dropping out of the labor force, downward revisions to previous months and a historic decline in the labor force participation rate to 64.1%.

The benchmark for the unemployment rate to get below 8% by Election Day was 217,000 going into today’s report (see the memo), but with a massive miss, that number is now projected to be 255,000.ᅠ It is increasingly difficult to see how the economy can create an average of 255,000 jobs every month going forward, and with the clock ticking, the President now needs to think about how much time is left before the economic picture is set for the 2012 election.

To date, the President’s overall approval rating has been well above his approval rate on the economy.ᅠ It seems that people have been willing to give him time and the benefit of the doubt, but it will be interesting to see if in the coming months those two numbers start to move closer together.

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 an undergraduate degree in economics from Dartmouth College.