Gas prices, Europe may be weighing on jobs: Obama

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama, in his first direct comments about May’s weak U.S. jobs data that alarmed financial markets, said on Monday high gas prices and the European debt crisis were creating headwinds to growth.

“We don’t know yet what has happened in terms of this particular blip, what we do know is gas prices went up and that got consumers worried … what’s happening in Europe has people nervous. So we’ve got some headwinds going up against us,” he told WEWS-TV news in Cleveland, Ohio.

The U.S. economy created just 54,000 new jobs last month — significantly fewer than the 150,000 that had been forecast — and unemployment edged up to 9.1 percent from 9 percent in April, according to data released on Friday.

“Over the last 15 months, we’ve created more than 2 million jobs in the private sector. What has happened though is any given month, you are going to have sometimes better than expected jobs reports, sometimes worse than expected jobs reports,” he said in the interview.

Obama said after the data was released that the U.S. economy faced bumps in the road, but he did not comment directly on the disappointing employment report, which has raised concerns about the durability of the U.S. recovery.

(Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Sandra Maler)