Lawmakers in both parties on Friday rushed to put their spin on new jobs figures that point to 431,000 jobs added to the economy in May, which is less than many expected.
The unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent, down from 9.9 percent in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. But of the 431,000 jobs created, just 41,000 came from the private sector. The government said 411,000 jobs were temporary Census Bureau positions that will go away by the end of the summer.
Democrats highlighted that the economy has added jobs every month this year and touted the importance of the census jobs.
“Census hiring provides a short-term boost to employment, and these jobs are helping us to perform an important government responsibility mandated by the Constitution,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the Joint Economic Committee.
“In this economic climate, any boost in employment is welcome,” the New York Democrat said.
But House Republican leaders accused Democrats of leaning on census worker hires to distort the true jobs picture.
“Positive job growth in May is an encouraging sign, but it is disappointing that nearly all of those gains are temporary, taxpayer-funded government jobs through the U.S. Census. Stagnant private sector job growth is clearly cause for concern and evidence of the struggles small businesses continue to face,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said that the temporary jobs “are not optimal” and that private-sector job growth “simply isn’t keeping pace with a growing labor force.”
One conservative Republican even took a shot at the administration over recent allegations that officials used plum federal positions to try to prevent competitive Democratic primary contests.
“The Obama administration seems to have plenty of jobs to offer to Democrat primary challengers,” Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (Ga.) said. “It’s too bad most of the 15 million unemployed Americans aren’t eligible.”