When it comes to discussing unemployment and job growth, the critical ingredient is factual data. And when it comes to factual data on unemployment and job growth, there is no better representative of where the country stands than the monthly jobs reports released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here’s what the bureau’s September jobs report showed Friday: Unemployment in the US has dropped to 7.8%—the lowest it has been since the start of the recession in December of 2008. The jobs report also showed that roughly 114,000 jobs were created between August and September, marking 24 straight months in which jobs have been added to the market as opposed to lost. Almost every major news source—The New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, etc.—have all reported the growth of jobs as stated in the jobs reports and each news source has pointed out the fact that this is good news for our economy.
These very impressive numbers for the economy are due in no small part to the policies and effort of President Obama in his stimulus packages, tax reforms, and bailouts, such as the auto bailout, which not only saved a massive portion of the American auto industry, but also led companies such as GM (owners of GMC, Chevy, Cadillac, and more) to recover and hire even more employees as reported by The New York Times. As Senior White House Advisor David Plouffe said on MSNBC, the decreasing unemployment “shows we continue to recover from a horrible recession.”
Now, the Republican approach to an improving economy in terms of job growth and falling unemployment under President Obama appears to be a simple policy of, as I refer to it, “plug your ears and yell that the economy is failing until someone believes you.” Many of my Republican counterparts will discuss economics with me and simply say that there is no job growth and that unemployment is rising, despite the numbers and facts being clearly against those claims. However, let us take a moment to examine the claims made by top Republicans in response to the most recent jobs reports. Generally, Republicans have taken one of two courses in response to the jobs report, either they admit that the continuing growth of jobs and the continuing fall of unemployment is good for America, but try to suggest that it’s not enough, or they claim that the numbers are rigged and that there’s no truth in the jobs report.
The first Republican claim that I mentioned, that of begrudgingly admitting the numbers are impressive but somehow not good enough, can be seen by the likes of Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan, when he said, “Any job growth is welcome, but this number is well below what is needed for America to meet its economic potential,” as reported by ABC News. Similarly, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner said of the jobs report, “There is positive news in today’s job report.” Granted, he later said it wasn’t enough, but hey, the man would get chewed out by his own party if he didn’t add that extra bit.
The second Republican claim—and the more highly controversial one, at that—is the claim that the numbers are manipulated in some way by the Obama administration. These claims, made by several Republicans, including Congressman Allan West, Fox News anchor Sean Hannity and the infamously bigoted conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh, have been heavily criticized and spoken out against by many of the more credible news networks. ABC, MSNBC, The New York Times and the Bureau of Labor Statistics itself have all made statements to the effect that the claims made by these Republicans are wholly unfounded. For example, ABC business correspondent Bianna Golodryga stated, “That’s a dangerous and unfounded allegation, and if that were true, there would have been months in the past that the President would have liked to manipulate, so nothing can justify that allegation,” shortly after reporting that the jobs report was “all in all, a surprising and relatively good report.”
There’s no denying that there is still a long way to go before our economy is in any sort of a boom. However, in terms of job growth and the decrease of unemployment throughout President Obama’s first term, there is no doubting that his policies have been effective. We have come from a pounding recession in which unemployment reached double-digits all the way back down to statistics resembling pre-recession America. I’ll leave the closing of my point in the hands of Alan Krueger, the head of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors, when he wrote in the official White House Blog, “While there is more work that remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the policies that are building an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2008.”
By AJ Simmons