Today’s unemployment rate of 7.7 percent in November, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is already becoming fodder for the fiscal cliff debate as the final numbers to be released before the deadline to extend tax cuts and stop sequestration.
That’s slightly down from the 7.9 percent rate in October. Though employment increased in retail trade, professional and business services, and health care, the Labor Department said, the number of unemployed persons, at 12.0 million, changed little.
“Our analysis suggests that Hurricane Sandy did not substantively impact the national employment and unemployment estimates for November,” the report said, adding regional and state estimates will be released later in the month.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.2 percent), adult women (7.0 percent), teenagers (23.5 percent), whites (6.8 percent), and Hispanics (10.0 percent) showed little or no change in November. The unemployment rate for blacks (13.2 percent) declined over the month. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.4 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier.
“The civilian labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 63.6 percent in November, offsetting an increase of the same amount in October,” the Labor Department reported. “In November, 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. …Among the marginally attached, there were 979,000 discouraged workers in November, little changed from a year earlier.”
As with most unemployment reports, Alan B. Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, argued in a statement that the numbers show it’s critical to continue Obama’s policies.
“While more work 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 2007,” he said.
“Most pressing, 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 continued. “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. To create more jobs in particularly hard-hit sectors, President Obama continues to urge Congress to pass elements of the American Jobs Act, including further investment in infrastructure to rebuild our Nation’s ports, roads and highways, and assistance to State and local governments to prevent layoffs and to enable them to rehire hundreds of thousands of teachers.”
“Millions of hardworking Americans are fixated on finding a job, yet President Obama is fixated on taking more money from those that could hire them. 7.7% is simply not going to cut it. 122,000 people lost jobs last month. Nearly 350,000 Americans gave up hope entirely and left the workforce,” said Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). “We must not prioritize big government spending over policies that will create opportunity for working men and women. Otherwise, our economy will never fully recover.”
“Today’s jobs report serves as a reminder that far too many Americans are looking for work, and that any plan to avert the fiscal cliff must prioritize job creation. Raising taxes, as the President insists, will make it more difficult for our nation’s small businesses to hire and will cost a projected 710,000 jobs,” said Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas).
Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) noted that “President Obama’s answer to a weak economy and uncertainty has been failed stimulus spending and tax hikes on small businesses.”
“It is troubling that the president appears more focused on raising taxes than in spurring economic vitality,” he said.