U.S. President Barack Obama said he was in a good mood Friday as he praised his administration’s progress on the economy after a new jobs report showed wage growth and the lowest rate of unemployment the nation has recorded since 2008.
The president’s statement came just hours after the latest report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed U.S. businesses continued to hire more employees and added 151,000 jobs to the economy last month. The report contained other positive signs for American workers such as the fact that unemployment has dropped to 4.9 percent.
"This is the first time the unemployment rate has dipped below 5 percent in almost eight years,” Obama said. “Americans are working.”
In addition, American wages grew 2.5 percent over the past year. "This progress is finally starting to translate into bigger paychecks,” Obama said.
Obama admitted there are still areas where he’d like to see further improvement, such as helping middle-age workers retrain for new jobs in today’s economy and connecting young people who still lack jobs to vocational opportunities.
Obama said the $10-a-barrel oil tax he plans to propose will take advantage of low prices and direct the nation toward clean energy, partly by creating high-paying jobs in sectors such as solar energy installation that are growing at a rapid clip.
"I think we'll look back and say, that was a smart investment,” he said.
The president also took a moment out of his afternoon address to chide Republican presidential candidates on the campaign trail who have criticized the state of the economy under his leadership.
"The United States of America right now has the strongest and most durable economy in the world,” he said. “I know that's still inconvenient for Republican stump speeches and their doom and despair tours in New Hampshire."