Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–February 3, 2012. We welcome today’s positive signals that the economy is beginning to turn the corner towards a robust recovery. Now we need to make sure current policies support that recovery and don’t choke it off.
For the 16th month in a row, the economy added jobs, bringing the official unemployment rate down to 8.3 percent – its lowest rate in three years. With 243,000 new jobs last month, the number of unemployed people fell to 12.8 million. But long-term unemployment remains stubbornly high. And given the magnitude of the job losses experienced in the Great Recession and looming problems ahead with the global economic picture and continuing weak spots in the housing market and the financial sector, it is critical that policymakers act decisively to build momentum and support continued job growth – particularly in construction. Extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance – without onerous new conditions – is essential to sustaining the current job growth.
Republican leaders, who are admittedly unconcerned with the poor and still pressing for ill-timed austerity in Washington and state capitals, run a very real risk of putting this incipient recovery at risk. President Obama, by contrast, has laid out a comprehensive agenda for job creation and broadly shared prosperity, rather than wealth for a few.
The seeds of sustainable job growth are clearly present – if Republicans in Congress do not succeed in weakening the recovery. Strong job gains were seen in professional and business services, education and health, manufacturing, construction and mining. The unemployment rate for African-Americans dropped from 15.8 percent to 13.6 percent, and Latino unemployment fell to 10.5 percent, while white unemployment fell slightly, to 7.4 percent from 7.5 percent. Unfortunately, the government sector continued to lose jobs, however, bringing the 12-month job loss in that sector to 276,000.