Well, that stinks. It's always worth remembering that it's not just the politics of the thing; we're talking about lots of damage to lots of people.
But you don't come here to read that; you want to know the politics. Specifically, the electoral politics. That's easy: it's bad news for Barack Obama, but easily overhyped. Think of it in two ways. First, we're talking about what's going to drive news coverage of the economy until something else does; his is certainly going to yield more stories of economic misery and fewer of good times. And, second, it contributes to a prediction of what's about to happen (or is happening now) in the economy. As such, it's not exactly the most useful information, but it's something.
At any rate...how about a little completely off-the-wall speculation about the effects of the jobs number during the current cycle compared with the past?
I have two -- and again, this is totally speculative. One is that it could have a greater effect than it has historically. Why? Because the press is so focused on these monthly reports. I'm not really certain about this -- there's certainly more attention than there was during good times, but you would have to go back to the Reagan recession to really get a good comp. I do have the sense, however, that there's a bit more pack journalism focused on the jobs numbers now, which (if true) would tend to make that report even more the driver of press impressions of the economy.
And the second one is that it will have less effect than it has historically. That one is a story about the partisan press. It's certainly true that the partisan press is a much larger portion of US news consumption these days. To the extent that the partisan press strongly slants economic news, then perhaps the actual facts about the economy become increasingly disconnected to how it's presented on (for example) Fox News. I do know there are some numbers out there for partisan perceptions of the economy, but I'm not sure what the evidence is for how it's changed over time.
Again, that's just speculation. What we do know is that a lousy economy isn't going to be good for the incumbent. Push Mitt Romney's chances up a little, and Barack Obama's down a bit.