Mr Obama can reasonably point out that he was elected in the wake of a financial meltdown that had threatened to bring about another Great Depression, with an unemployment rate that would make the current one look like a lucky escape.
The co-ordinated global stimulus by members of the G20 in 2009, though far from perfect, helped save the world from something much worse—though that probably provides little comfort to the 205m people round the globe who are now unemployed. Nor is there much scope for further stimulus.
But today’s jobs pain is about more than the aftermath of the financial crisis.
Globalization and technological innovation are bringing about long-term changes in the world economy that are altering the structure of the labour market. As a result, unemployment is likely to remain high in the rich economies even as it falls in the poorer ones.