What they’re saying about today’s job numbers

Democrats are pleased by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ announcement this morning that 11,000 jobs were lost in November – in the prior 3 months, payroll job losses had averaged 135,000 a month – and the unemployment rate fell to 10 percent (down from 10.2 percent in October), the best monthly jobs report since December 2007.

From House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez:

“Today’s news that our nation’s unemployment rate fell in November is a sign that the Obama administration and Democratic Congress’ efforts are helping to move our economy in the right direction. When President Obama first inherited this crisis, our economy was losing hundreds of thousands of jobs each month. Today’s figures reflect what the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and a growing number of economists have told us: that the Recovery Act is helping blunt layoffs and reduce the unemployment rate.

“This hopeful report is also a reminder that our work is far from over. Each job lost is one too many. We must not let up on our efforts to stem further job losses and get our economy working for every American. While the nation’s employment situation may be stabilizing, millions of Americans are still without a job. In the coming weeks, Congress will move to provide additional relief to those who are struggling to pay their bills while they look for a job.”

Not good enough, say Republicans. From Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the ranking Republican on Miller’s committee:

“Any reduction in unemployment is welcome news, but a 10 percent unemployment rate is certainly not cause for celebration. Millions of Americans still cannot find jobs, and millions more remain so discouraged they’ve stopped seeking employment entirely.

“More than nine months since enactment of the stimulus, the unemployment rate remains two full percentage points higher than Democrats predicted. To consider this an economic recovery is an affront to the workers who remain jobless and the small businesses too uncertain to grow and hire because of the litany of economic threats looming in Washington.

“To achieve true economic recovery, America needs pro-growth policies. Instead, Democrats in Congress and the White House remain stubbornly committed to a job-killing agenda that includes card check, cap-and-tax, a government takeover of health care, and deficits as far as the eye can see. Summits and spending are not solutions.”

Robert Hall – a Stanford economics professor, Hoover Institution senior fellow, member of the Congressional Budget Office Advisory Committee since 1993 and president-elect of the American Economic Association – told me this morning that the job numbers “were a pleasant surprise and give some hope that we have reached bottom in payroll employment, but it would be going way to far to suggest that we can revise upward the fairly dismal forecasts for job growth in the next couple of years. Anyway, I don’t forecast, as it would conflict with my business cycle chronology function at the NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research).”

But as for what expectations should’ve been up until now, he said, “All forecasters got the job situation wrong for this year. It’s preposterous to try to measure the effects of the stimulus by comparing actual to a year-ago forecast. All reasonable models say that the job situation would have been worse absent the stimulus, though there is a lot of disagreement on the amount.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.