New Unemployment Data: Good, Just Not Good Enough

The April unemployment figures are out, and America added 290,000 new jobs. It’s good news, but still unemployment edged up to 9.9 percent.

The problem has many layers. First, the American population continues to grow. It takes 127,000 new jobs every month just to keep up with the population. Second, the economy is starting to recover so formerly and formally “discouraged” workers are seeking work. They now count as “unemployed” and show up differently in labor force statistics.

Despite the job growth (at last!), the right wing continues with its fantasy that the recession is Obama’s fault and that the Recovery Act has created no new jobs. People need to understand just how deep the hole is, and how small the Recovery Act was in comparison. The Recovery Act moved $787 billion of federal money into the economy to stimulate growth. But thanks to the downturn, state and local governments cut $600 billion out of the economy at the same time. The net effect is practically rounding error in an economy our size.

We are moving in the right direction. Our monthly jobs report moved from negative to positive. Let’s give credit where it’s due.
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We need more recovery spending, not less. We need to put people to work fixing schools, installing wind turbines and laying new track for high speed rail. We need to move in the direction of Rep. George Miller’s (D-Calif.) Local Jobs for America Act, which hires more teachers instead of laying them off.

This is the time to grow, not shrink. We can grow our way out of the deficit like our parents did. Let’s ask for more, not belittle what we have.

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