While unemployment dipped slightly in July, the field of Republican presidential hopefuls continued to pound President Barack Obamas record on jobs and the economy.
A federal Bureau of Labor Statistics report revealed Friday that nonfarm payrolls added 117,000 jobs in July -- but this barely put a dent in the national unemployment rate, which came in at 9.1 percent. In June, the national unemployment rate stood at 9.2 percent.
The Obama administration sent out Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the Presidents Council of Economic Advisers and the chiefeconomist of theEconomic Recovery Advisory Board, to opine on the new numbers.
Todays employment report shows that private-sector payrolls increased by 154,000 in July and the unemployment rate ticked down to 9.1 percent. The economy has added 2.4 million private-sector jobs over the past 17 months, despite a slowdown in economic growth from substantial headwinds in the first half of the year, noted Goolsebee on Friday. While the better-than-expected report is welcome news, the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high and faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn. Bipartisan action is needed to help the private sector and the economy grow such as measures to extend both the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, as well as passing the pending free-trade agreements with re-employment assistance for displaced workers, the patent reform bill, and a bipartisan infrastructure bill to help put Americans back to work.
"This week we averted an economic catastrophe by avoiding a default and putting in place an important down payment on long-term deficit reduction. We will continue to work with Congress to build on these efforts to achieve a broader balanced deficit reduction agreement that instills confidence and allows us to live within our means without shortchanging future growth.
The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision, added Goolsbee.Therefore, as the administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.
Republicans at the national level -- led by the field of presidential hopefuls -- shrugged off the minor dip in the unemployment rate and fired away at Obamas economic record.
"Today's unemployment report represents the 30th straight month that the jobless rate has been above 8 percent, said former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, the current front-runner for the Republican nomination. The administration promised, with their $800 billion stimulus, that they would keep unemployment below that number. When you see what this president has done to the economy in just three years, you know why America doesn't want to find out what he can do in eight."
On Friday morning, in response to the report, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota released a statement blasting Obama on jobs.
"Despite today's jobs report showing a slight improvement, with 9.1 percent unemployment, it is still evidence that the president's failed economic policies are digging us deeper into a hole, said Bachmann. The president created twice as many donors for his campaign as he created jobs in the second quarter. This week the president was handed a $2.4 trillion blank check and in return the American people got a mere $21 billion in promised spending cuts, the erosion of their personal savings in the worst stock market drop since 2008, and the promise of higher taxes --before the ink had dried on the budget deal. It's time for the president to admit what the markets, the world, and the American people already know: his trillion-dollar stimulus was a failure, the government can't create jobs, and massive spending kills them.
"This week the president announced that he would again pivot to focus his attention on jobs, added Bachmann. We can only hope he will pivot away from his failed economic policies that have killed growth and put millions of Americans out of work. What the markets want and what the country needs is a fundamental restructuring in the way Washington spends taxpayers' dollars that reins in unprecedented spending, gets our debt under control, and encourages pro-growth economic policies. The president can attempt to blame and spin away this week's bad economic news, but you can't fool the markets. Mr. President, the only way to dig us out of this hole your administration has gotten us into is to stop digging."
Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota looked to turn the presidents campaign slogans from 2008 against him.
"Today's dismal jobs report is a far cry from the hope and change that President Obama promised on the campaign trail, said Pawlenty. Since the president took office, unemployment has risen 17 percent, the federal debt has increased 37 percent and gas prices have doubled.In the last week, the stock market suffered its worst day in years, economic growth was revised down and consumer confidence dropped. Despite these clear and abundant signs that our economy is floundering, President Obama has still failed to deliver a concrete plan to create jobs and promote growth. This lack of leadership is inexcusable and driving our economy toward decline. It's time for a new president to point us back in the right direction, and I am the only candidate who has proposed a specific economic plan that will create jobs and grow our economy."
Responding to the news, Republicans in the Sunshine State also took aim at Obama on jobs.
"Although the debt has been the dominant issue in Washington, the biggest issue in the rest of America is the lack of jobs, and today's report further highlights this sad reality. Unfortunately, this report only tells part of the story, as nearly one in every five Americans are either unemployed, underemployed or have given up looking for work altogether, said Florida Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. "All year, President Obama and Senate Democrat leaders have wasted time calling for tax increases rather than pursuing pro-growth tax and regulatory reform that will help create private-sector jobs. We have an unemployment emergency in America, and Washington is making it worse."
"Anytime Americans find jobs it's good news, but our unemployment rate is still unacceptably high. President Obama and the Democrats have been in charge of this economy for nearly three years. They passed stimulus, Obamacare, mini-TARP, and an overhaul of the financial markets, sometimes with the help of Republicans. President Obama even got his way on the debt ceiling through a false 'solution' that will allow him to add even more to the debt without any accountability, said former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, who is now running in a crowded Republican primary to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012. "These policies are an anchor around America's economy and cause real pain to Florida's families. I'll fight for an economic freedom agenda to restrain government spending, eliminate job-killing government regulations, and reform our tax code to help job-creators and job-seekers rebuild the American economy."
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859. Gray Rohrer contributed to this story.