A new report showing the national unemployment rate dropping from 7.9 to 7.7 percent as the U.S. economy added 236,000 jobs in February was hailed by a senior White House official as evidence that the economic recovery is "gaining traction."
"While more work remains to be done, today's employment report provides new evidence that the recovery that began in mid-2009 is gaining traction," said Alan Krueger, Chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, in a statement.
He noted, "The economy has now added private sector jobs every month for three straight years, and a total of 6.35 million jobs have been added over that period."
Krueger cautioned, however, that the employment report was compiled before the imposition of the sequester's automatic spending cuts, urging Congress to "move toward a sustainable Federal budget in a responsible way" that combines entitlement reform with spending cuts and closes tax loopholes.
House Speaker John Boehner, for his part, welcomed the news of job creation but argued that unemployment and debt remain far too high.
"Any job creation is positive news," he said in a statement, "but the fact is unemployment in America is still way above the levels the Obama White House projected when the trillion-dollar stimulus spending bill was enacted, and the federal government's ongoing spending binge has resulted in a debt that exceeds the size of our entire economy."
"Without a plan to control spending and balance the budget," Boehner warned, " our national debt will keep piling up on the backs of our children and grandchildren; our most important safety net programs will grow weaker and weaker, and the prospects for long-term economic growth will dim."