The January jobs report showing the U.S. economy adding 243,000 jobs and a drop in the unemployment rate to 8.3 percent was welcomed news for the Obama administration and the president's reelection team.
But House Republicans Monday took a more pessimistic view of a recovering, yet sluggish, economy, arguing that the jobs situation is direr than the report suggests.
Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina said the report marked the 36th consecutive month of record high unemployment. Wilson cited a University of Maryland business professor who said on Fox News that the unemployment rate is closer to 20 percent when factoring in part-time workers who want full-time jobs and recent college graduates who must take low-skilled customer service jobs.
These statistics provide further evidence that the president's policies are failing to provide job creation, Wilson said.
GOP Notes Large Number of Discouraged Job Seekers
Rep. Marcia Blackburn of Tennessee said the report fails to reflect the number of discouraged job seekers who drop out of the work force since President Barack Obama's inauguration.
If the labor force participation rate had remained where it was when he took office, she said, the unemployment rate for January 2012 would have been 11 percent rather than 8.3 percent. It is time to change policies.
The report issued Friday beat expectations, with Bloomberg estimating 135,000 new jobs and an 8.5 percent unemployment rate. But Republicans in Congress are continuing to hammer their point that the president's policies hamstring the economy.
One Democrat, Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut, took the floor on Monday to implore his Republican colleagues to keep the momentum going by extending unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut set to expire by March.
As the president said, Congress must not 'muck it up,' Courtney said. If we don't do that the markets are going to head south on us again, just like they did last December during the battle over an extension of the payroll tax cut.