As if the economy could become a back-burner issue, it certainly won’t be with unemployment data showing the number ticking up to 8.2% according to government figures. The “experts” have been predicting that the unemployment number would have to hit 8% in order for President Obama’s re-election prospects to brighten. As it is now, the trend just ticked back in the negative direction which will certainly be a point of discussion between both campaigns this month.

Report from the LA Times:

The nation’s unemployment rate rose for the first time in nearly a year, to 8.2% in May, as the economy added a disappointingly small number of jobs for the third straight month.

The government said Friday that employers created on net just 69,000 jobs last month — less than half of what analysts were expecting. What’s more, the Labor Department revised downward the job-growth numbers for the prior two months, putting the average monthly job growth at 96,000 for the last three months. In the prior three-month period, from December to February, the economy added an average of 252,000 jobs a month.

The May jobless rate ticked up from 8.1% in April, after steadily declining since last August, when the unemployment figure was 9.1%.

The latest data are certain to heighten fears that the economy has slipped into a dangerous spring stall similar to the prior two years — and it could create trouble for President Obama and his reelection bid. The president is today scheduled to visit a Honeywell manufacturing facility in Minnesota, where he is expected to talk about creating more job opportunities for veterans.

With Europe still on the ropes with its debt problems, and the big economies in China and India slowing, global economic growth is weakening and presents a serious threat to the American economy. The government said Thursday that U.S. gross domestic product, or economic output, grew at a sluggish 1.9% annualized rate in the first quarter.

Consider these dueling press conferences for a sense of where the campaigns are strategically. Senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod was in Boston to hammer Mitt Romney’s record on job creation in Massachusetts. Word of the press conference leaked and Romney supporters overwhelmed Axelrod and the entire event lost any impact it might have had.

On the flip side, the Romney campaign made an unannounced stop at the headquarters of the failed solar panel manufacturer Solyndra on the same day:

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Clearly this is not 2008 anymore and the Romney campaign appears to have a better strategy than John McCain did along with a quicker response team. May was a tough month for the Obama campaign and given these unemployment numbers, June could be a bumpy ride as well.