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Debate over jobs numbers

The jobs situation seems to continue to be getting better, with Friday’s announcement that unemployment fell two-tenths of a percent in January, to 8.3 percent.

But it’s not getting better fast enough, says Fifth District Republican Congressman Robert Hurt.

“A drop in the national unemployment average is always good news. However, the jobless rate remains above 8 percent now for the 36th consecutive month and we begin 2012 just as we left off in 2011 – with far too many out of work both in the Fifth District and across the country. Despite this drop nationally, many areas in the Fifth District still face double-digit unemployment rates due to years of failed big government policies,” Hurt said in a statement.

It’s politics season, certainly, and Democrats are working to sell the message that the jobs situation is, based on the improving employment numbers, indeed getting better.

“The good news is that the U.S. economy has added private sector jobs for 23 consecutive months and manufacturing remains a bright spot, but too many Americans are still struggling through the wake of the worst recession since the 1930s,’ U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine said. “In the coming weeks and months, it is imperative that our leaders in Washington set aside partisan games and find common ground to advance important measures that will encourage economic growth, like an extension of the payroll tax cut through the end of the year and hiring incentives for our returning veterans. I hope our leaders will also recognize that our long-term prosperity depends on their ability to responsibly reduce our deficit while still making the types of investments in education, workforce training and infrastructure that have helped pave the way for our recovery.

“The dangerous ‘all cuts’ approach that my opponents advocate would turn back the clock on the progress we’ve made. Instead of a return to the same failed economic policies that helped create this mess, I believe we need forward-looking investments that will help us emerge from this recession even stronger than before our economic collapse,” Kaine said.

Any celebrations of the news of the continued improvements in the jobs situation should “stay sober,” said Robert L. Borosage, co-director of the progressive Campaign for America’s Future.

“The U.S. economy is still slogging slowly against fierce headwinds,” Borosage said. “We are still 6 million jobs short of where we were when the Great Recession began.  There are still nearly 24 million people in need of full-time work.  There are still over 4 people lining up for every available job.

“Austerity continues to impede the recovery,” Borosage said. “Government employment was flat last month, but state and local governments project more cuts.  Austerity in Europe is driving the EU and the United Kingdom into recession.  U.S. exports will suffer accordingly, even without a Greek default or a financial calamity.  US government spending will be constricted by the budget deals.”

Republicans, for their part, are preaching that fiscal austerity in Washington will key continued economic recovery.

“The House has already sent over 30 bipartisan jobs bills to the Senate – yet these bills still remained stalled in that chamber,” Hurt said. “At a time when we are entering the fourth year of over trillion dollar deficits that are causing disastrous effects on American job creation, it is critically important that we enact these commonsense policies that will remove the government as a barrier to job creation, rein in reckless spending, and restore opportunities for businesses to create jobs both in Central and Southside Virginia and across this country.”

augusta free press
augusta free press