Democrats Applaud Jobless Rate, but More Must Be Done

Posted February 5, 2010 at 8:42am

As Democrats continue hashing out a jobs bill — or a series of bills — the Labor Department delivered them some good news Friday: the unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent in January, the lowest it’s been since August.

In December the jobless rate was 10 percent.

The Labor Department reported that the economy still lost 20,000 jobs, however, which means Democrats still have some work to do to show that their job-creation efforts are paying off. Democrats are eyeing a series of job-creation measures in the coming months, with the Senate hoping to bring up a bipartisan package next week.

“Today’s employment report contains encouraging signs of gradual labor market healing,” said Christina Romer, chair of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers. She pointed to increased employment in manufacturing and in retail trade.

But Romer also cautioned against reading too much into unemployment falling below double-digit figures. “Obviously, the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high and is even worse for certain demographic groups such as teenagers and black or African-American workers,” she said.

Congressional Democrats applauded the news but emphasized that more needs to be done to stem job losses.

“Today’s jobs figures underscore the need for quick action to help bring down unemployment,” Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) said.

“The Senate will be considering a series of jobs initiatives in the coming weeks, and I will continue to push my jobs tax credit proposal to help businesses hire new workers. While it won’t solve all the problems businesses are facing, offering businesses a tax credit would help them hire workers they otherwise wouldn’t,” he said.

House GOP leaders were already pouncing on the number of jobs lost.

“Americans are asking, ‘Where are the jobs?’ but all they are getting from out-of-touch Washington Democrats is more government and more debt,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said.

“If the president and Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi are serious about creating jobs, then they must take a serious look at the impediments to jobs their agenda threatens small businesses with every day,” Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said.

“Hiring grows from investment, and businesses and investors need clarity,” Cantor added. Instead, Democratic efforts to advance climate change legislation and health care reform “have created such great uncertainty that hiring is simply not a reality for businesses and entrepreneurs.”

Ways and Means ranking member Dave Camp (R-Mich.) blamed the Democratic agenda for causing more than three million people to lose their jobs since passage of the $787 billion stimulus last February.

“It is well past time for the president and Congressional Democrats to suspend their plans for a government takeover of health care, higher taxes on energy and other job-killing taxes and regulations. The combination of these policies is harming our economic recovery,” Camp said.

“Unfortunately, more job losses and a small dip in the unemployment rate due to temporary hiring isn’t the foundation of a sustainable recovery,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the ranking member on the Joint Economic Committee.

Brady called on Obama to “rethink his economic team, his job-killing budget and his second ‘stimulus’ bill.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee fired off an e-mail aimed at 74 Democrats primarily in swing districts for failing to rein in government spending as more people go without jobs.

“Economic recovery is still struggling, but John Spratt and his party leaders continue to pile on an agenda that spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much,” NRCC Communications Director Ken Spain said in the e-mail that went out in Budget Chairman John Spratt’s (D-S.C.) district.

Democrats targeted by the NRCC e-mail include Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), Dennis Cardoza (Calif.), Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.), Steve Driehaus (Ohio), Frank Kratovil (Md.), Betsy Markey (Colo.), Eric Massa (N.Y.) and Tom Perriello (Va.).