Democrats Hail Job Gains as Sign of Economic Recovery
Updated: 1:31 p.m.
House Democrats hailed Friday’s news that March delivered the largest job gains in three years — 162,000 new jobs — as a sign that President Barack Obama’s economic recovery efforts are working. But Republicans pounced on the other number released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a steady unemployment rate of 9.7 percent, as proof that Democrats’ policies aren’t doing enough.
Christina Romer, who chairs Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, touted the job numbers as “the most positive jobs report we have had in three years.”
The March employment report “shows continued signs of gradual labor market healing,” Romer said. An average of 54,000 new jobs have been created per month during the first quarter of 2010, a “dramatic change” from the first quarter of 2009, when average job loss was 753,000 per month, she said.
Romer said the labor market is still “severely distressed,” however, and further actions to spur job growth “are critically needed.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said news of the job gains “is an important sign that the economy is turning around after many months of job losses.”
Even after accounting for the 48,000 census workers hired in March by the government, the larger picture shows “that Democratic economic policies averted catastrophe and are starting to return our economy to strength,” Hoyer said.
The Majority Leader also emphasized that millions of people are still out of work and more must be done to boost the private sector and extend unemployment insurance, something that Senate Republicans have been holding “hostage to political games,” he said.
Minorities continued to struggle with unemployment in March. Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said the unemployment rate grew from 15.8 percent to 16.5 percent among African-Americans last month and from 12.4 percent to 12.6 percent among Latinos.
“These numbers undergird the continued importance for legislation to directly create more jobs for unemployed Americans, particularly the chronically unemployed,” Lee said.
House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) saluted the job gains and took a jab at the economic policies of former President George W. Bush.
The March job increases are “welcome evidence that our recovery from the deep Bush recession which President Obama inherited has finally begun to provide some benefits to American workers and families,” Frank said. “This heightens the sharp contrast in the performance of the economy … between the period when the Bush economic policies were controlling and the months since the Democratic recovery plan has been implemented.”
House Republican leaders said the job gains were not enough and ripped the administration over the steady unemployment rate.
“A 9.7 percent unemployment rate is no cause for celebration, and any politician who takes a victory lap for it is out of touch with the struggles working families and small businesses asking, Where are the jobs?’ are facing,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said.
Boehner said the job numbers were misleading because of the census worker hires. “No amount of taxpayer-funded temporary census workers can mask the pummeling America’s employers are taking from Washington Democrats’ job-killing agenda,” he said.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) also assailed the jobs report, calling on politicians to “set our sights higher, our goals larger and our actions bolder.”
Cantor blamed the “trillion-dollar-plus health care overhaul championed by President Obama and Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi” for crippling the ability of businesses to hire new workers.