The White House lauded today’s unemployment report as “further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression.”
Chairman of the Council of Economic Adviser Alan B. Krueger also tied the 7.8 percent unemployment rate, unchanged after a 0.1 percent revision to November’s rate, to the 11th-hour fiscal cliff deal in Congress.
“With the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act earlier this week, more than 98% of Americans and 97% of small businesses now have certainty that their income taxes will not rise,” Krueger wrote this morning.
“By allowing income tax cuts for the top 2% of earners to expire, this legislation further reduces the deficit by $737 billion over the next decade. It is important that we continue to move toward a sustainable federal budget in a responsible way that balances revenue and spending while protecting critical investments in the economy and essential support for our most vulnerable citizens.”
The labor force participation rate was also unchanged at 63.6 percent in December. Republicans were quick to point out the “real” unemployment rate and note that if the participation rate was the same as when President Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 10.7 percent.
The Senate Republican Policy Committee said the unemployment rate when taking into account the underemployed as well as the unemployed is 14.4 percent. The “real” number of unemployed Americans is 22.7 million.
The committee also noted that Obama promised a 5.2 percent unemployment rate by this time.
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) called the news “stark reminders that Congress should focus on creating conditions for economic stabilization and growth, not new taxes.”
“We hope that our colleagues in the Democrat-controlled Senate and President Obama share our understanding of not only the gravity of our fiscal and economic outlook, but also the critical steps we must take to find real solutions to safeguard our nation’s future,” said the member of the Budget Committee.
“If they wish to convey such a seriousness, I would urge Senate Democrats to pass a budget for the first time in nearly four years. Perhaps putting ‘pen to paper’ on our nation’s compounding budgetary crisis would shed light for them on the incredible fiscal challenges we face and the necessity of action.”