Washington needs to do more to spur private job growth, both Democrats and Republicans are saying today. Yet while Democrats are touting their programs like the stimulus and health care reform as job-creators, the GOP contends those programs are simply bloating the federal government.
The unemployment rate for March held steady at 9.7 percent for the third month in a row, the Labor Department announced today. While unemployment did not go down, more jobs were created, which helped accommodate more people entering the workforce. The Labor Department said employers added 162,000 jobs in March, including 48,000 temporary workers hired for the U.S. Census.
The White House reacted with cautious optimism to the news.
"While this is the most positive jobs report we have had in three years, there will likely be bumps in the road ahead," Christina Romer, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement. "At the same time that we welcome today's encouraging labor market news, it is obvious that the American labor market remains severely distressed... Further targeted actions to spur private sector job creation are critically needed to ensure a more rapid, widespread recovery."
"We are beginning to turn the corner," President Obama said today at the Celgard LLC factory in Charlotte, North Carolina. "This month more Americans woke up, got dressed and headed to work."
Democrats have pressed the message that their policies will foster job creation.
While a year ago, the economy was hemorrhaging jobs, there is now job creation because of "the measures that we took," the president said today. "Measures that were necessary even though they were unpopular."
Yesterday at a health care rally in Maine, Mr. Obama touted a tax credit for small businesses to help them provide health care for their employees as will help create jobs."Anticipating that one of the president's next priorities will be energy legislation, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer this week called Mr. Obama's announcement to allow for offshore drilling a plan that "
Republicans, however, are arguing that Democrats are promoting government-centric policies.
Republican House Whip Eric Cantor said today that the health care bill burdens some businesses and "forces them to cut jobs."
"We must work to move beyond this uncertainty by creating a sustained period of real job creation, and that can only start once Washington stops actively impeding economic growth," he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back in a statement claiming that health care reform will create up to 4 million new jobs over the decade.
"News that American job losses of nearly 800,000 a month under President Bush are now turning to job gains of 162,000 last month -- the most jobs added in one month in the past three years -- is evidence that U.S. businesses are gaining confidence," Pelosi said.Obama Welcomes Jobs Report as Rare Good News
Economy Adds 162K Jobs in March, Most in 3 Years Republicans are also focusing on the large number of jobs added to the public sector last month.
"A near ten-percent unemployment rate is completely unacceptable, and no amount of taxpayer-funded temporary Census workers can mask the pummeling America's employers are taking from Washington Democrats' job-killing agenda," House Minority Leader John Boehner said in a statement.
Furthermore, they say the president's $787 billion stimulus package signed into law last year to create jobs has been ineffective. A spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pointed to an administration report issued last year in which Romer and Jared Bernstein, an economic policy adviser for the vice president, wrote that without the stimulus package, unemployment would hit around 8.8 percent.Mr. Obama said today that the stimulus package is not only helping now, but also part of a long term strategy to invest in industries that will be vital in the future, such as clean energy. He praised the stimulus investment in lithium ion battery production.
The United States is "already seeing an incredible transformation" in that industry, he said. He added that investment in lithium ion batteries can "expand and catalyze an entire new industry where the United States of America can gain enormous market share across the globe."