The White House is taking today’s jobs report — with unemployment declining to 7.7 percent in November — as another sign of the imperative for approving the tax plan the president is pressing in deficit talks.
Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, today hailed the Labor Department’s report of 146,000 jobs added last month as “further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression. ”
What’s downplayed in this statement is the reservation heard in previous statements, before the president’s re-election, which were careful to hedge any celebration over improving numbers with the warning that more work remains to be done. The rate slid to 7.9 percent before President Barack Obama’s re-election Nov. 6. Today’s report is the best number since December 2008.
And Krueger is using the numbers to underscore the urgency of averting the automatic tax increases slated to take effect Jan. 1 if Congress fails to act. The White House and congressional leaders are negotiating a deficit-cutting deal aimed at averting that — with the president insisting on tax relief for 98 percent of Americans and higher tax-rates for top earners, and House Speaker John Boehner holding out for new revenue by limiting some tax exemptions.
“President Obama has proposed, and the Senate has passed, an extension of middle class income tax cuts that would prevent the typical middle class family from facing a $2,200 tax increase at the beginning of next year,” Krueger said in a statement released by the White House today. “In addition, the president has proposed a plan that will enable responsible homeowners to refinance their mortgage and take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates.”
“The economy has now added private sector jobs for 33 straight months, and a total of 5.6 million jobs have been added during that period, taking account of the preliminary benchmark revision,” he said. “Over the last 12 months, the unemployment rate has decreased by 1.0 percentage point as a result of growing employment, and the labor force participation rate has been essentially unchanged.”
He saved the caveat for last:
“As the administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.”