Former Obama Economic Adviser Warns Unemployment Could Rise

ABC News

The economy has added more jobs than expected in each of the past three months, pushing down the unemployment rate to 8.3 percent and marking the best six-month streak of jobs numbers since 2008.

But President Obama's former economic adviser said today that this seemingly rosy economic picture probably won't last.

"I think the main thing that [President Obama] ought to worry anybody is that the growth rate is probably not as sustainable as at high a rate as it's been, so the pace of expansion, which for six months has been pretty impressive, it may just slow down a bit," Austan Goolsbee, now an ABC News contributor, said today Sunday on "This Week."

Goolsbee said he did not think the economy would plunge into a "double dip" recession, but warned that the growth rate would likely slow from 3 percent to 1.5-2 percent. He also said the unemployment rate, which could be vital to Obama's re-election, could spike upward after six months of decreasing rates.  

"As the economy's improving, you're also going to see, as you have the last couple of months, a whole lot of people coming out of the labor force, back into the job market," Goolsbee said. "So the unemployment rate might actually go back up."

While having more long-term unemployed people jump back into the work force is good in the long run, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer said the corresponding uptick in the unemployment rate "could look bad" for t he president's re-election bid. 

That gobbledy-gook of economic numbers is not what people are going to be basing their votes on come November, Republican strategist Mary Matalin argued.

"Let me go to the reality zone," Matalin said on "This Week." "People who are voting do not measure their economic stability or sustainability on the employment numbers, on the labor force participation, on the Dow or the Nasdaq.  They measure it by the pump, filling up their car."

Matalin said instead of focusing on the unemployment rate, Obama should train his sights on the rising price of gas, groceries and health care premiums. All of those, she said, are issues that independent voters, who are vital to any candidate's election success, "blame on Obama."

"People really have a despair about the future," Matalin said. "They're not mad at this president. They just think he's a weak leader."