The U.S. jobs report released Friday came out better than expected, but the picture still isn’t pretty. And Republicans unleashed a barrage of criticism at President Barrack Obama for the weak job market.
Non-farm payrolls rose 117,000 last month, beating economists’ forecasts, which generally ranged from a 50,000 to a 100,000 gain. June’s payroll increase was revised upward to 46,000 from the initial report of 18,000. And the unemployment rate dipped to 9.1 percent in July from 9.2 percent in June.
But much of that rate decline stemmed from an exodus of 193,000 people from the labor force. People who aren’t looking for a job don’t get counted as unemployed. The portion of the eligible working population that actually holds a job dropped to a 28-year low of 58.1 percent.
So Republicans weren’t too impressed.
“Today’s unemployment report is more proof that all of the Washington spending, taxing, and regulating is devastating our economy,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement.
“While the American people are asking ‘where are the jobs?’ the Democrats running Washington are determined to punish small businesses with higher taxes and more red tape – including hundreds of new regulations last month alone – and to keep their spending binge going at all costs.”
The result is more fear, uncertainty, and debt, rather than jobs, he said.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the “slight improvement certainly wasn’t what we hoped.” He criticized Obama for advocating additional stimulus spending and higher taxes.
"Now, I would say that we've been there, done that. So if nothing else, if he doesn't agree, let's at least try something else," the Virginia congressman said.
"For too long in Washington now, we've been worried about pumping up . . . unemployment benefits, and you've got states in which you can get unemployment for almost two years. I think those people on unemployment benefits would rather have a job, and so that's where our focus needs to be."
And what’s the solution? "We've got to . . . remove the regulatory burdens that are in the way of entrepreneurs and investors so that jobs can be created again,” Cantor said.
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus attributes the high unemployment rate to Obama’s lack of leadership.
“Rather than focusing like a laser on growing a strong and healthy American economy, President Obama is punishing job creators at every turn and devoting his attention to saving his own job,” Priebus said.
“After 30 straight months above 8 percent unemployment, it’s time for President Obama to quit passing the buck, take responsibility for the economy, and institute a pro-growth jobs agenda.”
Republican presidential candidates echoed those thoughts. The “dismal jobs report is a far cry from the hope and change that President Obama promised on the campaign trail.” said former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who has emerged as the leading candidate behind front-runner Mitt Romney, reiterated Cantor’s point that the moderate job gains aren’t enough.
“It is still evidence that the president’s failed economic policies are digging us deeper into a hole,” she said. “Mr. President, the only way to dig us out of this hole your administration has gotten us into is to stop digging.”
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