Job report stokes political flames

By Aaron Smith, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- The government's monthly payrolls report on Friday provided plenty of fodder for politicians on either side of the aisle ahead of the Nov. 2 elections.

"It looks a lot like the reports we've seen every month since President Obama signed the stimulus spending bill into law," said House minority leader Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio. "That's what you got for your $787 billion worth of spending: High unemployment, a bigger government and an economy struggling to create jobs."

The mixed results from the payroll report -- which showed an overall loss of 95,000 jobs in September, a gain in private sector employment, and an unchanged unemployment rate -- was a rich source of ammunition for Republicans and Democrats.

"With each passing month and each new jobs report, it becomes increasingly clear that while massive Washington spending is growing the size of government -- it's clearly not growing sustainable private-sector jobs," said Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, focusing on the net loss.

McConnell said Democrats in Congress "left town without doing the single most important thing they could have done for jobs -- preventing a massive new tax increase on families and small businesses."

The net loss of 95,000 jobs is the result of private businesses adding 64,000 workers in September, and the government shedding 159,000 workers. Most of the losses came from budget cuts by cash-strapped state and local governments, as well as temporary census jobs ending. It was a zero-sum gain for the unemployment rate, which remained unchanged at 9.6%.

President Obama said the job loss would have been worse without the federal stimulus, which was provided to state and local governments to avoid the layoffs of teachers, firefighters and police officers.

Job gain: Austan Goolsbee, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, said the private sector has added jobs over the last nine consecutive months. He said the recent job report "provides more evidence that the economy continues to recover, but we must do more to put the economy on a path of robust economic growth."

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. and chairwoman of the Joint Economic Committee, also focused on the gain in private sector employment. She attributed the gain to the $787 billion Recovery Act and $26.1 billion state aid bill passed under the Obama administration. She compared the monthly gain to a year ago, when the economy lost 186,000 private sector jobs.

"When the economy is bad, we're not going to get a lot of credit for keeping it from being terrible," Maloney said. "But there is no question that the economy is in better shape than it was a year ago."

Job loss: Not everyone was celebrating over the gains in private sector jobs. Martin Regalia, chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was unimpressed with the data -- which he said was "moving in the wrong direction."

"The employment data released today showed another month of lackluster job growth in the private sector, and continued decline in the total number of jobs," said Regalia. "While the majority of jobs lost were from temporary government census workers, the paltry private sector gains continue to disappoint.

Maloney contrasted the private sector job gains to the last month of the President Bush administration, when the economy lost 779,000 jobs in Jan. 2009.

"It's going to take years -- not months -- to dig out from Bush's economic mess, but the digging has began," she said.

Maloney accused Republicans of blocking job creation proposals -- an accusation that was echoed by Richard Trumka, president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. AFL-CIO is a federation of 57 labor unions, with more than 12 million members.

"Our nation is desperate for more aggressive action to tackle the ongoing jobs crisis," he said. "Republicans in Congress have remained steadfast in their obstruction to any and all job creation proposals."

Speaking in Maryland, Obama said the job-saving stimulus was "help that Republicans in Congress have consistently opposed." He added that rescuing the job market "is too important to fall prey to partisanship or blind ideology."

The job market is likely to be the deciding factor of the Nov. 2 elections. Looking ahead to the elections, Trumka added, "The next time the monthly jobs report is released, millions of working people will have voted." To top of page

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